We've all been there. Dinner plates are empty, the final glasses of wine has been drunk and you're ready to plop down on the couch or get ready for bed, but there's a looming pile of dishes in the sink standing between you and your lastest Netflix binge. Fortunately, there's an easy solution: plan more one-dish meals.
When your whole meal is cooked in a single vessel, you've only got to worry about that one pot, a few dinner plates and silverware — a 10 minute clean-up, at most. If you don't have a dishwasher, recipes like these are a lifesaver. And if you do have one, you'll save even more time. It's a win-win.
Here are three of our favorite one-dish recipes, from spicy jambalaya to healthy salmon cooked in foil packets.
Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya
You may think it would take countless pans and many hours to develop the savory flavors of Cajun jambalaya, but, really, all it takes is a heavy Dutch oven and about an hour of your time. Deeply browning the meats is the secret to success with this recipe. Both the dark fond built up on the pot and the caramelized meats will impart their finger-licking umami into the rice as it cooks, resulting in a one-pot dish that'll have everyone coming back for seconds. While the cook time may be a little much for a weeknight dish, this jambalaya will be a hit at any tailgate or casual dinner party, and you'll only have a single pot to clean up afterward.
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Salmon in Foil Packets
Looking for a lighter option? Salmon cooked in a mess-free foil packet with a generous heap of vegetables gets points for its ease, speed and tender texture. A naturally fatty fish like salmon holds up beautifully to being cooked in this way, especially when you add a splash of vermouth to each packet. This moisture- and flavor-booster creates enough steam to lightly soften the vegetables and keep the salmon from drying out. On top, we like to generously drizzle an amped-up vinaigrette, chock full of anise-forward tarragon and crunchy celery. To make this dish the ultimate weeknight success story, build the packets the night before and make the vinaigrette while the salmon cooks. You'll have dinner in less than 20 minutes with zero mess.
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Carolina Chicken Bog
Originating around Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, chicken bog is a distant cousin to chicken purloo (or pilaf), which consists of pulled chicken cooked together with rice and sausage. Bogs generally have a little more broth in them, making them slightly soupier or “boggier” than traditional purloos. No matter the name, we love this dish for its one-pot simplicity — you've got protein, veggies and starch all in one pot with abundant flavor to boot. We like to deeply brown the sausage before cooking any other ingredients; as with jambalaya, the caramelized meats lend an astonishing level of complexity to the final dish. Another tip? Make use of a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken and store-bought broth instead of cooking chicken and broth from scratch. With all that browned sausage goodness going on, you won't be able to tell the difference, and you'll be able to cut out that second pot.
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All Photos: Maura Friedman