Of course, these books are almost all a tad deceitful. Read the fine print and the author of the “five ingredients” cookbook confesses that she doesn’t count salt and pepper, water, or added garnishes in the ingredient list. those “15-minute” meals take a tad longer if you count cleanup. And the “one-pot” meal usually requires something extra — a salad or side, at the very least, to make it seem like dinner.
The ever-reliable Pam Anderson has come out with “Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You need for Easy Get-Togethers” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010), a title which — in its echo of every woman’s magazine on the newsstand — still manages to resonate. Along with being reliable, Anderson is honest: She suggests an appetizer, a salad, and a dessert for each of her “one dish” delights. And she gives shortcuts for many of the “extras.”
For example, she pairs a paella with a baked goat cheese appetizer, a mixed green salad and a dessert of orange sherbet. Her roast chicken dinner is served with baked Camembert as an appetizer, a warm vegetable side and pumpkin custards. Her tamale pie (below) is preceded to the table by guacamole, accompanied by a confetti slaw and followed by pineapple upside-down biscuits.
This pie is a festive company dish, especially since it can be made a day ahead of time. While Anderson offers streamlined recipes for the appetizer and dessert, to really minimize fuss you could opt for store-bought guacamole and chips as an appetizer, substitute a mixed-greens salad for the slaw, and offer grilled or broiled pineapple slices, drizzled with honey and topped with a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream, for dessert.
1 1 / 2 pounds ground turkey (see Cook’s note)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chili powder
2 cans pinto beans, undrained
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chilies, undrained
2 (2.25-ounce) cans sliced black olives, drained
1 (16-ounce) jar salsa
1 / 2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup (8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
Half of a red onion, thinly sliced, optional
One day before serving, heat a large (11- to 12-inch) deep skillet with an ovenproof handle over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook, stirring frequently and seasoning lightly with salt, until meat loses its raw color, a couple of minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons chili powder and stir.
Remove 1/2 cup beans from can and mash in a shallow bowl. Add to turkey, along with remaining whole beans (and their liquid). Add chilies, olives salsa and 1/4 cup cilantro, and simmer to blend flavors, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring water, cornmeal, remaining 2 teaspoons chili powder and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, whisking frequently, until mixture thickens to mush. Pour mush over hot meat mixture, spreading with a spatula to completely cover. allow to cool, then place plastic wrap directly onto cornmeal to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
When ready to cook, position a rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
Remove tamale pie from fridge and allow to come to room temperature while oven heats. Remove plastic wrap, top with cheese and cover with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
Bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with cilantro and red onion, if desired, then broil until cheese melts and cornmeal gets a little crusty, about 5 minutes. let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Any leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days and reheated in microwave.
Cook’s note: Ground beef or even meat-loaf mix can be substituted for turkey.
– Source: “Perfect One-Dish Dinners: All You need for Easy Get-Togethers” by Pam Anderson (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010)