Don’t you love walking in the front door to the wonderful aroma of something that has been cooking for many hours? It feels like you’re unconsciously being led into the kitchen in a Pied Piper kind of way.
Here at the Londinium Project we don’t like leaving the stove or oven cooking while we’re not home. Even if we need to pop out for more than a few minutes, we tend to shut everything off. You never know when disaster will ensue, and we’re talking about more than a spoiled dinner. Even when we make chicken stock and leave it the pots (we use every single pot we have to make sure we have a high yield to freeze if we’re making the effort) simmering overnight, we tend to get up regularly to check on them.
But it’s great getting home to a still warm dinner that doesn’t really need much time to be ready. And yesterday, we managed to have the cake and eat it too – we had a warm pot of food waiting for us without leaving the stove or oven on.
Was it magic? No, but we used a very clever device – our Wonderbag. Basically it looks like someone grabbed a sleeping bag, cut a large circle, put a drawstring around the edge, added a puffy cushion on top and closed it.
Honestly, when we bought it a few months ago we were a little skeptical, but it works. The insulating material keeps the pot’s temperature for a few hours with the added benefit that the liquid doesn’t reduce. We hadn’t used it for a while, but yesterday decided to make a one-pot dinner – chicken drumsticks cooked in spicy tomato sauce and we decided to let it finish cooking in the Wonderbag while out and about.
The idea came after we noticed a box of cherry tomatoes that were getting a tad soft and wanted to do something with them rather than let them continue rotting. You know how it is with tomatoes, one bad one will infect the rest and before you know it, you just have to throw the whole thing away. We would normally have made some habanero salsa, but we didn’t have any fresh peppers, although it seems we have an endless supply of dried varieties of different heat levels.
So chicken it was. We didn’t follow a recipe and aside from the basics, just opened our spice drawer and threw in whatever we thought made sense. The end result was pretty delicious, so this is what we used:
- Chicken drumsticks
- A box of cherry tomatoes
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced (we love garlic so we tend to be quite heavy handed)
- Medium red onion, roughly chopped
- One stalk celery, finely diced
- 3 dried hot peppers, ground
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon chipotle chili flakes
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Knorr chicken stock pot
We started by chopping the tomatoes, reserving some and throwing them into the spice grinder to create a paste. After heating some olive oil in our Staub Cocotte (which by the way weighs a ton when empty) hot, we put in the garlic, onion, and celery. Once the onion started getting translucent, we put in the tomatoes, allowing them to get to a simmer before starting with the spices. This was done very haphazardly. We started with the hot peppers, cumin, and cinnamon and then kept adding stuff and tasting.
At this point we realized that the sauce was too thick and needed some liquid. We put in a cup of water since we don’t have any stock frozen and then remembered the chicken stock pots in our drawer, so we just put one into the pot. Normally we’d have dissolved this into boiling water and then added it to the pot, but since we didn’t want to add more liquid, we just threw it straight in. After all, isn’t the point of a one pot dinner to be simple and not dirty more dishes?
Once we were happy with the flavor of the sauce, we put the chicken drumsticks in. We decided to remove the skin, just to be a little more healthy. We let the whole thing simmer on the stove for a few minutes and then put it in the oven until the chicken was almost cooked.
And then, we moved on to the magical part. We grabbed the hot pot with the bubbling liquid inside and put it in the wonderbag and closed it tightly.
We just left it on the countertop for seven hours. By the time we were ready to eat, the pot was still warm to the touch and the food hot, with the chicken tender and falling off the bone. We put it on the stove top for a short while simply because we wanted the cooked rice we had just added (leftover from two days before) to reach the same temperature. And within five minutes, we had a hearty meal ready.