The one pot wonder

22:16, Feb 19 2013

After the stupendous disappointment of the food at the Petone Fair, I really needed to cook something to make me feel like the day's eating was not a completely lost cause. I needed to cook something that would bring nourishment, and joy. And peace. Unfortunately, after a day spent largely sitting in the yard drinking beer, with sunbathing dogs and Gram Parsons on the stereo, I was also feeling reasonably lazy and unambitious in the culinary department.

I needed to make something that a) wouldn't require me to leave the house for ingredients, b) was easy, and c) would make me feel less cheated by the day's eating.

I needed to make ... a one pot wonder.

And this is what I made:

The Omnivore's one pot, "dealing with the disappointment of the Petone Fair, cooking with what you've got", chicken

For two (generous) servings you will require;


4 chicken thighs - free range, bone out

3 or 4 ripe tomatoes

1 red onion

A handful of olives

Dried oregano

A slosh of olive oil - and a little more to serve

Salt and pepper

1 lemon - juice and zest - and maybe an extra lemon, to finish

A handful of chopped green herbs - Italian parsley, mint, coriander, tarragon, basil etc, to serve

1 cup of dried instant couscous

1 cup of chicken or vege stock (proper is best, made with a decent stock cube is totally fine)

A small handful of chopped, toasted almonds

Some more chopped green herbs


Season the chicken and rub it with the oil, lemon zest and oregano. Heat a metal-handled (or ovenproof) pan on a medium-high heat on the stovetop. Turn the oven on to bake at 200 degrees. When the chicken has taken on some appealing brown colour, turn it over and do the other side.

Meantime, chop your tomatoes roughly, and your red onion into slices. Add them to the pan, with the olives and the lemon juice, and juiced lemon halves, and sling the whole shebang into the oven. Cook for around 20 minutes - the chicken should be juicy and succulent, and the tomatoes and onion just starting to break down.

Add the hot stock to the couscous in a separate bowl, and cover with clingfilm, leave for 4-5 minutes until it is soft, then plump and separate it with a fork, mixing through the almonds and herbs, and some lemon juice.

Dress the chicken with the rest of the green herbs, serve atop the couscous.

Delicious, easy, hearty, flavoursome. One pot - no messin' and, remarkably for me, not even all that mess.

As Plus One and I sat down to reflect on the disappointment of the Petone Fair's nosh, and eat the one pot, "dealing with the disappointment of the Petone Fair, cooking with what you've got" chicken, I felt calm, and appeased, and nourished.

I knew that everything was going to be fine.

Victory from the jaws of defeat, peace in the Valley, etc.

Just fine.

What do you cook to deal with the disappointment of an unsatisfying day's eating? And - what do you have up your sleeve by way of one pot wonder dishes?

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