Reader question: Hi there! I heard you speak on Sunday at the library – great. I was wondering – can you fix the food in the pot and put in the fridge ahead of time and then put right in the oven when ready to cook? Or does it need time to warm up first before going in the hot oven? – Porter in Denver
Great question, Porter! In fact, the only thing that needs to warm up before you cook your Glorious One-Pot Meal is the oven. As you know, it is very important that your oven is fully preheated to 450 F before you put your Dutch oven inside, but the Dutch oven itself can easily move directly from your refrigerator into your oven without changing the amount of time the meal will need to cook.
Many GOPM cooks will layer the ingredients into the pot in the morning and then put it in the fridge until that evening when the oven is hot and ready to go. Just remember that if you are using any dry goods (i.e., pasta, rice, quinoa, barley, etc.), reserve the liquid needed to hydrate them and add it to the pot right before cooking.
Once I performed a cooking demonstration and afterward gave a full pot of raw food to my mother to cook as we had other dinner plans. She ended up waiting to cook the pot until the following evening. The recipe was Sesame-Soy Salmon with jasmine rice (it’s in my cookbook!). When I asked her how she liked the recipe, she answered, “It was delicious!”
And when I asked her how the rice turned out, she said,” Well… it was more of a rice patty than individual grains, but it was still delicious!”
So, if you’re preparing a GOPM in advance that contains a dry good, reserve the liquid to add at the last minute before cooking.
Oh, and one other thing: while your cast iron Dutch oven can go from fridge directly into the oven, it cannot go the other direction from being hot to being cold. Putting a hot cast iron pan into cold water is a good way to crack and ruin your pot, so be sure to always let your pot cool before cleaning it.