How to make an Easy, One-Pot Sunday Lunch
Food, cooking, eating, and recipes - all that is fine and well - but when it comes to Sunday, somehow "less is more". The food should be simple and delicious, but not too time consuming or fussy in its preparation. After all, Mom deserves a day off too! I for one would rather limit my time in the kitchen to have time to socialize and relax on the traditional day of rest for most of the world. I put in my time. So - here is my ideal solution to lunch. Made with meat, chicken or a combination of meats, my famous meat and vegetable soup recipe with roasted meat and potatoes is both easy and a sure crowd pleaser.
Sunday's Lunch Menu
1. Soup: Two bowls are allowed, no problem
2. Main Course: Cooked Meat, potatoes, vegetables, tossed salad served with sliced french bread.
3. Beverage: Wine or "Bewanda" which is half wine and half water, popular here in Dalmatia. It's a nice, refreshing and thirst quenching drink, and as you digest the wine more slowly, it's unlikely to affect you if you have to work or drive a car after lunch.
4. Dessert: Optional. Pudding or ice cream with cookies and hot brewed coffee is good - the meal and wine "put you to sleep" and the coffee "wakes you up"
1 chicken or meat pieces, and - or turkey drumstick or two. Ideally, three types of meat lend the best flavor. For a family of four, I recommend about 4 or 5 pounds of meat, with bones. (If you use turkey drumsticks which are thick in nature and take longer to cook, be sure to put them in first.)
Seasonings: 1-1/2 T. Salt and freshly ground pepper, Mrs. Dash or Vegeta, (seasoned salt is also OK, just don't overdo it - a tablespoon is about enough). Dash of paprika for flavor and color. It should be colorful but not too red or too brown. A light red is about right.
Fresh Vegetables. You will need about two onions, peeled and make a cross on one of the ends to release more flavor. Add 4 cleaned, peeled and quartered potatoes, at least 2 carrots both cut lengthwise and crosswise, one fresh tomato (optional), about 2 T. tomato paste, 3 celery tops (the leafy part), and one bell pepper or two small ones, green or yellow, if you wish.
The celery is absolutely required to make a great, flavorful broth. The carrots too add a lot, and the potatoes tend to thicken the soup up a bit. Everything plays its part in making the meal a good one.
Fill the pot with enough water to cover it all, and cook on high until the mixture starts bubbling. A note about salt. A teaspoon for a half liter is about right especially if you are watching your salt. The tomato paste also has salt as well as the noodles. It is always easier to add more later - so think "less is more".
Here is my classic Sunday lunch. We usually go to church, then hang out at the coffee shop. Sure is nice to know when we get back home, lunch will be pretty much ready to eat :)
This lunch is the soup, meat, potatoes, salad lunch that Europeans love to serve to guests. The beauty of it is it's full of vitamins, has liquid, fills you up, you don't eat as much heavy food and again, you're looking pretty good both physically and financially.
I usually combine a chicken with one or two cuts of meat. Most of the time, I remove the pulpy (sometimes dry) breasts to pan fry later, meaning you've stretched your chicken across two meals. I like to serve them along with french fries and a tossed green salad or coleslaw.
Once the soup starts bubbling, turn down the fire so that it continues at an easy temperature, the soup tastes better if you "respect" the cooking process. If it's splashing and sputtering you know it's too high.
In an hour or less, there are going to be some pretty good smells coming out of the kitchen! :) Even the neighbors might happily comment "Mmm. something smells good over there".
I let the meat cook a good two hours. For example, at the latest, it should be cooking by 9 am. Since it takes awhile to get going, around 11:30 would be a good time to test it.
Generally speaking, the game plan is - get the meal cooking, turn it on low, and head out.
Sunday Afternoon Feast
Serving the Main Course
You can serve the meat directly from the pot where it was cooked to the plate. The potatoes will be especially tasty because they were cooked in the yummy soup broth. As a side garnish, it's OK to add Ajvar "AY-Var" (a Mediterranean salsa with Turkish roots) or Hren - also known as Horseradish but a little bit milder. A little salt and olive oil can be added to the plate, if desired. Most of the time I usually eat it as is, because the meat is falling off the bones and smells great. The combination of meat, salad, wine and fresh french bread is really good.
Roast the meat a bit longer in the Oven
As a variation, remove the meat and veggies from the pot onto a cooking pan. Adding salt and cooking oil, put it in the oven for 20 minutes or so.
My friend really goes out, she adds eggplant slices, tomato slices, bell peppers of every color and variation, which is great. In my personal experience, my kids won't eat half of these things, so I just limit it to carrots and potatoes.
Dressing it Up
If you were planning a party, there would be a couple more additions. First of all, you would be sure the soup was being made of a good quality of beef - but like I said earlier, best to combine at least two cuts (adding chicken and turkey, or a good cut of lamb). Once we had 20 people over and put the head of the lamb into the pot - it is a large pot. That soup was SO darned good and two of my husband's brothers had a ball picking the meat off the bones.
Before the meal, you would need to add an appetizer.
Appetizer and A Half
The appetizer that people here are hoping to see on the table is a large platter of sliced cheese from Pag, a Dalmatian island known for its great cheeses. The town of Pag is known for salt production. Since the cows and sheep and goats eat the salty grass, their milk is slightly saltier, and their cheese is world famous.
So a plate with Dalmatinski Pršut (think Panceta - finely sliced meat, with very little fat and very tasty) - Pag Cheese - and an assortment of olives, slimly sliced dill pickles and two or three variety of crackers is sure to be a crowd pleaser!
Cooks in One Pot
If it lacks pizzaz, as it sometimes does, I have been known to throw in a beef bouillion cube just to add a little umph.
You will need to drain the soup into a second pot to cook your soup in. Using a callinder to drain the soup into the new pot, cook it for a few minutes (it's already hot, just get it ready to cook the noodles, or Manistra as we call it here. Ma-nis-tra)
Most manistra takes about 10 minutes to cook - wait til the soup has gotten to the rolling boil stage. Not a bad idea to try it at the 8 minute stage, better that it doesn't get to that nasty, mushy "point of no return" that no one wants to eat.
When it's finished, serve on plates. Two bowls is customary around here.
Fresh Delicious Bread
My husband could live without this dish, but almost all the people I know like to eat it alongside a roasted meat dish.
Assuming you served the appetizers (which can be prepared the night before), served the delicious mouth-watering soup, served the meat and potatoes, bread and salad, the next thing would be a scoop of French Salad on the plate.
Luckily, this dish can also be prepared the night before and in fact tastes better when chilled.
If you're serving a smaller group, you'll need one bag of frozen peas and carrots, two boiled potatoes diced up, a crisp green apple (like Granny Smith - peel it first then dice it up), two sliced up sweet or dill pickles, mayonnaise, lemon juice, dijon mustard, 4 slices of ham also cut into small cubes or squares - let it marinate in your salad bowl. Before serving, garnish with sliced hard boiled eggs. One note about the frozen peas and carrots. I've found that many times the peas are OK but the carrots are not. It's not a bad idea to boil fresh carrots alongside the hard boiled eggs and potatoes and then cut them up by hand.
If you really want to outdo yourself, at the end of the meal will be Turkish coffee and hrustule and cvite or baklava (see my other hubs) - and maybe a scoop of ice cream.
Some choices for Dessert
- Easy Recipe - How to Make Delicious Home Made Chocol...
Making ice cream at home with fresh ingredients, eggs, milk, cream and chocolate, can be fun and easy. My ice cream recipe allows for variations like banana, vanilla and standard chocolate. Whip it up in an hour or less, then put it into the freezer.
- CROATIAN CVITE - a Croatian cookie recipe
This is the traditional recipe for Dalmatian cvita, served at weddings, baptisms, birthday parties and such. It contains lemon, anise, powdered sugar and breaks in the mouth if prepared correctly. There is no other cookie in the world like it.
You calling me Chicken?
But if you're cooking food for your family and maybe a guest, stick to your one-pot recipe meal. It's bound to be a hit, and most importantly, it's easy - so you can also take it easy on Sunday.
Remember - Meat, Potatoes, Soup, Salad, French Bread, Wine - and a Modest Cake Dessert recipe with strong coffee - if you can manage it - is the traditional choice year round.
Have fun and Bon Appettit!