So, I’m starting to get more and more into one pot meals, because I’m also noticing that, especially during the middle of the week, the last thing I want to do after a full 8 hour work day is cook something overly complicated or time consuming (we’re talking more than 45 minutes of prep, unless there’s a marinade, which I count as part of the cooking time since I can go do other things in the meantime). And one of the things I’m starting to use more and more for cooking is my cast iron skillet! Sure, it’s a used one, and when I got it, it had definitely rusted out, but with some elbow crease and a couple hours to season it, it’s shiny and good as new, and it’s making some darn good flavorful meals for me and my guy!
And before I get into the actual one-pan meal itself, allow me to quickly throw out a tip for cleaning them! #1: Clean them while they’re hot! Very normal advice to be sure, since getting gristly bits of the bottom of the pan is a lot easier when it’s hot. And to add on to that, #2: Deglaze your skillet with hot water IF NECESSARY. Now, normally I don’t use water (for reasons I’ll reveal a little later), but when there are some seriously stuck bits of food at the bottom, I have some hot water on the side ready to go just in case, along with a soft plastic bristle brush to get the stuck pieces off without ruining the seasoning of the pan, then DRY THOROUGHLY or it’ll start to rust. #3: While still hot/warm, scour with Coarse Sea Salt, a little vegetable oil/shortening, and a paper towel. No soap ever for these bad boys (rust, scaling, de-seasoning, the usual reasons of course), but I learned this tip from my fry guy Ed, and frankly, the coarse sea salt not only cleans your pan, but is coarse enough to get those last non-stubborn little bits off the bottom without totally stripping the season of your pan like soap or too much water would. Some people may disagree with me, but you could go either way (or both if you need to). #4: While still hot/warm, pour a little (1 tablespoons should be plenty) vegetable oil/shortening. This is what keeps your pan seasoned and ready to use for your next meal. If it’s not warm by the time you get here, reheat your pan a bit on the stove, then off heat add the oil, rubbing it around until you’ve got that dark, shiny look again, removing excess oil from pooling on the bottom. Then, what I do is pop it in the oven to cool naturally. TA-DA!!! It should only take about a minute or two, and I just make sure I have all that I need to clean ready to go so my food doesn’t get cold.
But for the one pot meals, I mean, especially when you cook them in the skillet themselves, which has all this natural seasoning to impart into your dish, it just takes your more rustic approach to dinner to a whole new level, and this one is a favorite of our household! One Pot Greek Lemon Chicken & Rice! Naturally, you cook the chicken in the pan first, just to render out the fat of the chicken thigh skin (which is the cut that I use most often) and get that skin nice and crispy and golden brown! Then, when you add in the rice, all that flavor from the chicken gets soaked RIGHT into the rice, making it super soft and tender. This is literally melt in your mouth kind of stuff folks. And the way you cook this (meat first, rest later) proves something about the cast iron skillet I mentioned above. If it’s hot, you’re not likely to have any issues getting things off the bottom, and since I cooked meat first, onions/rice (and chicken again) after, you can tell in the photo of the onions that there is only minimal gristle, but that’s because you kind of do a mini cleaning mid-recipe to remove those larger fatty bits that are just going to burn and bitter the meal, which honestly makes the end cleaning SO MUCH EASIER!
Now, if you’re like me, and got your pans second-hand/passed down, you might not have a pan lid to go with them. THIS IS OKAY! Don’t go buy another skillet that comes with a lid. I find that’s a waste of money (unless you’re absolutely set on having one with a lid, then by all means), and there are definitely some very EASY hacks to make up for it, like what I did (after being given this tip from the recipe I included): BAKING SHEET. Yup, that’s right, you can ABSOLUTELY use a flat (preferably dark metal) baking sheet to get the same effect as an actual cast iron skillet lid, and no doubt most of you already have that in your inventory, so why not use it? Case and point, do you NOT see how fluffy and delicious that rice looks? Steamed to absolute perfection! Not to mention that all the steam rising up from the rice to keep the chicken nice and moist imparts so much of that awesome lemon flavor! You want your family to clean their plates? This will do it! Oh, and did I mention how easy this is? (So easy!) Definitely a recipe to keep on hand for those busy work weeks that need a quick and tasty meal!
One Pot Greek Chicken & Lemon Rice from RecipeTin Eats
Notes: The other reason I love this recipe is because there are alternative methods for different kinds of rice (like brown, jasmine, and basmati rice)! Not to mention that a lot of the meals on her blog are really yummy too, but this one is by far my favorite!