There are always questions.
Here is where I post the questions I am frequently asked, and of course the answers are here, too. If you don’t find what you’re looking for on this page, be sure to check out my blog for even more answers to questions about Glorious One-Pot Meals.
Q: What is a Dutch oven?
A: A Dutch oven is an oven-safe, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid and two side handles. Its straight sides are vertical and the bottom is wide and flat. Though Dutch ovens can appear in stainless steel or other materials, only cast iron Dutch (sometimes called “French”) ovens work properly with Glorious One-Pot Meals. I prefer enamel-coated cast iron as it will not only absorb, distribute, and retain heat evenly and efficiently but it’s rust-proof and easy to wash to boot. The enamel coating usually makes the pot dishwasher-safe and freezer-safe, and it won’t react with tomatoes or other acidic ingredients. The size can range from 2 quarts up to 10 quarts or more.
When selecting and purchasing a Dutch oven to use with Glorious One-Pot Meal recipes, be sure that you choose one that can withstand oven temperatures of up to 450 degrees and can provide enough for almost 1 quart of food per person served. For instance, the recipes presented her and in the cookbook serve 2 people and call for a 2-quart Dutch oven, though you can use a larger pot.
Some companies only offer Dutch ovens in half or three-quarter-quart sizes; in this case you would want to step down a bit and use a 3.5-quart Dutch oven to feed 4 people, a 5.5-quart one to feed 6 people, etc.
Q: What is the difference between the 2005 edition of the Glorious One-Pot Meals cookbook and the one released in January, 2009? If I already own the first one, is it worth getting the new edition?
A: I call the 2009 edition of the cookbook the “expanded and revised” edition. It has all the recipes from the previous version plus around 60 new ones and has been extensively edited and standardized. It also has a few new twists on ingredients – several ways to use eggs, for example – and more grain options not seen in the first edition. It’s organized differently and has a comprehensive index, so it’s more user-friendly than the first book. It’s twice as big and a much better book in so many ways.
If you’re already a GOPM-lover, you’ll really like the 60+ new recipes and new ways to use ingredients. For a GOPM-newbie, you’ll find everything people have loved about the first book and(hopefully!) enjoy the read.
Q: I think my oven temperature is off. Could this be why my Glorious One-Pot Meals aren’t turning out perfectly?
If your oven runs too hot you may find that your veggies are too soft and your meat is dried out. If your oven runs too low, your meat may not be fully cooked and your rice may be too crunchy when you take out your pot. In a Glorious One-Pot Meal, nothing is done until everything is done, so if you’re experiencing a problem like this, it is worth investing in an oven thermometer (about $5 at a cookware store) to see what’s going on in there.
I recently moved into a new house and my Glorious One-Pot Meals were not turning out the way they should. When I unpacked my oven thermometer I discovered that when my oven SAID it was at 450F, it was actually at 410F. Luckily, my oven manual gave instructions on how to recalibrate and it took two minutes to accomplish the adjustment.
The other thing I learned was that when my oven chimes and claims that it is fully preheated to 450F, it is actually only at 250F. So be aware that it takes a while for an oven to heat up that hot, perhaps even longer than your oven claims it does. Now my oven thermometer lives inside my oven and I habitually check it before I put anything inside.
The patented Glorious One-Pot Meal cooking method requires a constant temperature of 450F degrees (230C or Mark 8 in Europe) from start to finish to work correctly. If your meals aren’t turning out the way they should, the first thing to do is to check your oven temp with a separate oven thermometer.
Q: Can I cook for two in a 5-quart Dutch oven?
A: Yes, while Glorious One-Pot Meals work best when they are filled to the brim with food, you certainly can use a larger Dutch oven to prepare a smaller amount of food. You just need to realize that some things will change and it won’t be as effortless as it would be if you were following the “1-quart-per-person” guideline for pot size.
When using a Dutch oven that is too large for the amount of food you’re preparing, you will have “dead air space” in your pot. This may or may not affect your cooking time, and in some cases, your meal may be a bit dried out. You will really have to follow your nose to know when dinner is ready. The more you get to know your pot and how things work in it, the easier this will get.
Additionally, I find I experience “over-enthusiastic vegetable preparation” — I include way too many veggies and have leftovers composed entirely of veggies but no protein. This may not be an issue for everyone.
So, using a larger Dutch oven will affect your cooking time, the quality of the meal, and you will have to pay more attention to the amounts of the veggies you include. Otherwise, you’re good to go!
Q: My family is picky — how do I know they will eat Glorious One-Pot Meals?
A: I have to say that this cooking method is great for picky families because YOU decide the ingredients YOU want to use in each recipe.
While I give you suggestions of ingredients and flavor combinations in each recipe, you can freely substitute any protein for any protein, any carb for any carb, and any veggie for any veggie.
For example, I have a recipe for Cajun Fish that calls for fish of any kind, sweet potatoes, green beans and tomatoes with Creole Seasoning for the flavoring. You could easily make this with chicken instead of fish, rice instead of sweet potatoes, broccoli instead of green beans, and carrots instead of tomatoes. See what I mean? Now you would have a Cajun Chicken with Rice and broccoli meal, though you would still be using the same technique you learned in the original Cajun Fish recipe.
The cookbook also gives lots of info about altering recipes and teaches you exactly how this unique, patented cooking method works.
Q: How can I get brown rice or wild rice to work in my Glorious One-Pot Meals?
A: The reason most of the recipes in the Glorious One-Pot Meals cookbook contain a type of white rice, is because most of the world eats white rice and I wanted the recipes to have an “authentic” flavor. However, you can certainly substitute brown rice in at any time.
The most foolproof way to prepare brown rice in a Glorious One-Pot Meal is to use parboiled brown rice. “Parboiled” means that the rice has been pre-cooked a bit so that it will cook more quickly when you make it at home. The grains are then dried and packaged in boxes or “boil-in-the-bag” pouches and sold in the regular grocery store. Just use 1 cup parboiled brown rice and 1 cup room temperature liquid. Continue to load your pot and bake normally. Your 2-quart meal should take about 45 minutes with the parboiled rice.
For the best results with regular long grain brown rice, add an additional 1/4 cup of liquid, and heat the liquid to almost boiling before adding it to the pot with the rice. Then put the lid on and set it aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients for your meal. This gives the rice a head start of 15 minutes or so, which it needs in order to fully cook.
Do the same technique with wild rice, but be aware that wild rice is not actually “rice” and the results will be variable depending on where it was harvested. Some wild rice mixtures work better than others in Glorious One-Pot Meals. When using wild rice in a Glorious One-Pot Meal you just need to be prepared that it might not turn out exactly as you had hoped. Usually, the longer you can let it pre-cook in the hot liquid –as you would with long grain brown rice– before adding the rest of the ingredients, the better it will turn out for you.
Q: The manufacturer’s specifications for my Dutch oven say the knob on the lid should not go into a 450 degree oven. Can I still use this Dutch oven to make my Glorious One-Pot Meals?
A: Traditionally, Dutch oven recipes begin on the stovetop and continue with hours of slow cooking in the oven. Most Glorious One-Pot Meals, on the other hand, stay inside the oven for an hour or less, depending on the amount of food you are preparing.
I questioned this recommendation during a meeting with the officials at one popular Dutch oven company and they reassured me that there was no problem for the phenolic plastic knobs when left in the oven for such a short period of time as necessary to make a Glorious One-Pot Meals. Furthermore, the enameled cast iron Dutch oven companies all purchase phenolic knobs from the same company, so this advice holds true across brands.
From personal experience, I own Dutch ovens that have literally made hundreds — if not thousands — of Glorious One-Pot meals. Of the more than thirty thousand home cooks who use my method, I have only ever heard of ONE knob problem, and that was from an early 1970s-era Dutch oven. The company promptly replaced the knob — even though the knob was almost forty years old!
Several companies, such as Le Creuset, now offer stainless steel replacement knobs, if you would like to replace the phenolic plastic one. It is easy to do since it’s held on by a simple screw.
Legally speaking, you should only do what you feel comfortable doing, of course, but I personally feel safe using the plastic knobs that arrive on the lids of enameled cast iron Dutch ovens for my Glorious One-Pot Meals. If you have a different experience, please let me know!
Q: Will the altitude affect the cooking time for Glorious One-Pot Meals?
A: Altitude is a factor when you are boiling or rising foods, but we’re not doing either of those here. I have prepared Glorious One-Pot Meals at altitudes from sea level to 12,000 feet and haven’t noticed any difference in the time needed to cook the pot. I have found that my nose will always tell me when the meal is ready no matter where I am.
Q: Can I use canned “cream-of” soups or cheese in my Glorious One-Pot Meals? I have a number of recipes that I think might make great ones in your glorious pot, but they take cheese or cream sauce ( sometimes canned soup ). Do any of your recipes in the cookbook have that type sauce? Let me know as I love this cooking method as I can get a dinner on the table in an hour after coming home from work.
A: I have developed a few recipes that include cheese — off the top of my head I can think of my Eggplant Parmesan recipe that calls for mozzarella, Glorious Macaroni and Cheese which has cheddar, and my Greek Eggplant with Bread Stuffing that includes feta — and I have always had good results with both real cheese and soy or rice cheese substitutes.
I don’t have any recipes that call for canned soup, velveeta or prepared cheese sauces for a couple reasons: 1) they’re usually full of sodium, fat, and other artificial ingredients that I don’t want to put into my body and 2) cassaroles use canned cream-of-x soups to provide the cohesion desired to meld all the other ingredients together into a uniform slab while one of the benefits of Glorious One-Pot Meals is that each ingredient retains its integrity during the cooking process. I have found that I can get a really creamy, cheesy meal by scattering chunks of cheese through the pot and don’t need to add a canned soup to accomplish this.
This is not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t put anything you desire into your own versions of Glorious One-Pot Meals! In fact, I would love to hear your thoughts on how these recipes turn out if you do choose to use these ingredients. I think it would be an interesting experiment to take one of your old favorite recipes that calls for canned soup and make it into a Glorious One-Pot Meal without the soup and see how you like it. For instance, if the recipe calls for a can of cream of mushroom soup, substitute sliced fresh mushrooms and a few chunks of mozzarella instead. The meal would become significantly lighter in fat, sodium and calories. And who knows, you may even like it better than before.
Q: Why did the noodles stick to the bottom of the pot when I made the Penne Puttanesca recipe? .
A: I’ve noticed the noodle problem when I:
1) load the pot and let it stand for too long before cooking (non-pasta recipes can be put together in the morning and left in the fridge until dinner time, but pasta will glump together if left in water that long),
2) forget to spray the inside of the pot with oil before putting in the pasta and water,
3) need to add more olive oil to the water and stir with the noodles a little more thoroughly, or
4) leave the pot in the oven for too long after the aroma comes wafting from the oven.
Or, your oven could be running too high. I purchased an oven thermometer at a local cooking store for about $5 to check my oven temp.
The amount of water I call for in the recipe is a tried-and-true amount and I live in a very dry climate, but if it doesn’t work for you, try adding 2 additional tablespoons of water to the recipe.
Q: How will I know if my Glorious One-Pot Meal is done?
A: You’ll know a Glorious Pot Meal is done about 5 minutes after the aroma first wafts from the oven. NEVER crack the lid too soon. Glorious Pot Meals use what I call an “infusion cooking process”, wherein the liquid from the vegetables heats to cook the rest of the food. Opening the lid allows too much steam to escape and slows the cooking process. This is why it is essential that your dutch oven has a lip on the underside of the lid to form a tight seal.
Q: Help! I burned my Glorious One-Pot Meal! What did I do wrong?
A: While it’s hard for me to tell exactly what happened without more information, I can provide a couple general pointers to help you avoid this fate in the future.
1) Every oven is a little different, and cooking times may vary depending on if you’re using fresh or frozen ingredients or even the thickness (or absence) of meat, so perhaps you simply left it in the oven too long. No matter what the recipe says the cooking time should be, your nose should always take precedence in deciding when a Glorious One-Pot Meal is done. The general rule of thumb is that the meal is ready about 3 minutes AFTER the aroma first escapes from the oven. At this point you should smell what I call a “full-bodied scent” that will probably make your mouth water and will definitely make your house smell inviting.
2) Be sure to use the correct ratio of water to grains. This is the most scientific part of the Glorious Pot Meal cooking method, and the one you will most benefit from my own trial and error development process. Whether the recipe calls for rice or pasta or quinoa, I will supply you with the correct proportion of liquid to grains so that your grains will be tender, fluffy, and fully cooked instead of hard, chewy, or scorched. The Glorious One-Pot Meal cookbook provides a handy table of ratios for using almost any grain in any form.
Q: Can I make my Glorious One-Pot Meal ahead of time and bake it the next day?
A: Most Glorious One-Pot Meal recipes can be layered the night before, kept in the fridge, and then put directly into a fully pre-heated oven for the normal amount of time. The only time this becomes an issue is when you are using a dry good such as pasta or rice. If the pasta or rice sits in the liquid overnight it will become a gummy patty. Instead, try just adding the dry ingredient when you’re building the meal and then pouring in the hydrating liquid just before it goes into the oven.
Q: I forgot to take out the chicken for tonight’s Glorious Pot Meal (I’m making Chicken Cacciatori)! It’s frozen solid – what should I do?
A: Relax, frozen meats work perfectly fine in Glorious Pot Meals — there is no need to think ahead for thawing! As long as the frozen meat fits completely inside the pot, you’re fine. If you need to separate two pieces of meat that are frozen together, put them into a sealed baggie and run under cold water until they can be pulled apart. Frozen bone-in meat, such as chicken legs, may require your Glorious Pot Meal to spend an extra 5-10 minutes in the oven to completely cook. Don’t forget: let your nose be the guide! You’ll know a Glorious Pot Meal is done about 5 minutes after the aroma first wafts from the oven.
Q: If I use a packaged mix of cous cous, should I prepare it according to the instructions on the Glorious Pot Meal recipe, or the instructions on the box it came in?
A: Stop right there! Save that pre-packaged mix for another time. Instead, purchase a cheaper bag of plain, raw cous cous, or scoop it out of the bulk foods bin at the health food grocery store like I do. Following the instructions in the recipe, or in the Common Measurements section of the Glorious Pot Meal cookbook, guarantees perfectly cooked grains every time. Following the instructions on a prepackaged box will add too much water, too much oil, and too many preservatives to be effective in a Glorious Pot Meal.
Q: Does it matter if I use fresh or dried herbs?
A: Fresh and dried herbs can be freely substituted for each other in any Glorious Pot Meal. Personally, I love running out to the garden and snipping fresh herbs for a meal, but during the wintertime, dried spices are often more convenient. Both provide the flavors and aromas integral to a yummy Glorious Pot Meal. Check in the Common Measurements section of the cookbook for exact substitution quantities.
Q: I have been put on a gluten-free diet by my doctor. Can I still make Glorious One-Pot Meals?
A: Absolutely. One of the beauties of the Glorious Pot Meal is the unlimited adaptability to any kind of dietary restrictions. Gluten is found in wheat and other grains, so simply omit the grain element from any recipe you choose to make. You can substitute potatoes or rice, if you like, or just have a starch-free meal. Be sure to omit the water indicated in the recipe as well, as it is solely necessary to hydrate the grain.
Q: Are Glorious One-Pot Meals Diabetes-friendly?
A: The basic answer to your question is that one of the greatest things about Glorious One-Pot Meals is that they easily adapt to any dietary requirements!
The more specific answer to your questions is that you will want to tailor the recipe to include only diabetic-friendly foods. You may want to skip the potatoes in a recipe and substitute quinoa instead. Or, you may want to make brown rice instead of the arborio rice called for in the book. I teach you exactly how to do this so that each recipe you make contains the ingredients you want to eat.
Additionally, each recipe is based on offering a nutritionally sound and complete meal in and of itself. So you’ll see a variety of produce in each colorful plate, and it’s a very easy way to eat fish regularly as well. These not only are some of the healthy eating guidelines from the American Diabetes Association, but are just good eating habits for the general population anyway.
Q: What are the measurements for dry goods when making a Glorious One-Pot Meals recipe in a 4.5-quart Dutch oven?
A: A 4.5-quart Dutch oven will perfectly feed 5 people, probably with a few leftovers. Since the recipes in the cookbook are based on feeding 2 people, simply multiply the amounts by 2.5 (in other words, double the recipe and then add another half amount). Here are some dry good measurements you can use with a 4.5-qt Dutch oven:
2 1/2 cups pasta with 1 cup liquid
2 1/2 cups rice with 2 1/2 cups + 3 Tbsp liquid
1 1/2 cups couscous with 1 1/2 cups liquid
2 1/4 cups quinoa with 2 1/2 cups liquid
1 1/2 cup polenta with 4 1/2 cup liquid
3/4 cup barley with 1 1/2 cup liquid