An unfortunate corollary of cooking a lot is that there are then a lot of dishes. That’s one reason that I enjoyed these two easy one-pot meals I’ve made recently. But the other is that they were both delicious! When you combine rice, chicken broth, and spices, or noodles, sauce, and cheese, you are bound to end up with something comforting, and these were no exception.

The first is a rice recipe I found when I was Googling for something to do with ground pork. I discovered ground pork while we were doing the Whole 30, and I really like it. It’s extremely inexpensive and versatile. This recipe is from Emeril’s, and I sort of halfway followed it. I used packaged saffron rice I got at the Spice and Tea Exchange in Greenville, SC, but you could obviously just follow the spices in the recipe. OR, use different spices if you don’t have or don’t want to buy saffron! I think this recipe is entirely adaptable. You could think about using different meats, different spices, adding veggies, different broth….imagine an Italian version, with ground chicken, basil, oregano, and Parmesan cheese. Or cheeseburger rice: ground beef, dried mustard, cheddar cheese. The options are endless! All with a base of rice and broth.

So, without further ado, here’s the actual recipe:

2 tablespoons lard
1/2 cup ground pork
1/4 pound chorizo, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped white onions
1/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups long grain rice
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 cups chicken stock, or water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped green onions

In a medium, heavy saucepan, heat the lard over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring until no longer pink. Add the sausages and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onions and bell peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the stock, salt, and saffron, and stir well. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low, cover, and cook undisturbed until all the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork. Add the oregano and cilantro, and stir to incorporate.

Turn into a decorative bowl and garnish with the green onions. Serve immediately.

(Yield: 6 to 8 servings)

I took great liberties with this one, like skipping the chorizo and tomato, and I used coconut oil instead of lard. But that’s what led me to imagine how else you could play with it! And how cheap is a simple bag of rice? So there’s one delicious one-pot option.

Some nights, though, you just want some noodles in your belly. On our most recent backpacking trip, one of the freeze dried trail meals that we ate was a chili mac with beef. It was pretty good, but all I could think about was how delicious chili mac made at home would probably be. I searched some recipes practically as soon as we got home and finally made this one last week….yum! It truly was like comfort in a bowl, and the leftovers were great.

Cheesy Chili Mac from Above an Italian Restaurant

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 pound ground turkey 2 cups water
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
8 oz (about 2 cups) elbow macaroni
1 1/2 -2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

Set a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Heat until shimmering. Add the onion, chili powder, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and brown sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground turkey and cook until it is no longer pink.

Stir the water and tomato sauce into the ground turkey mixture in the pan. Add the pasta and stir to combine. Cover the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until the pasta is al dente, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a vigorous simmer.

Turn off the heat under the pan and add 1 cup of the cheese. Stir to incorporate/melt then season the dish to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining cheese (1/2 - 1 cup depending on how cheesy you want your dish) over the top and cover the pan again. Let stand for about 2 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

(Makes 4 servings)

This one I honestly wouldn’t tweak. The seasoning was perfect, the amount of cheese was perfect. I was surprised to see brown sugar on the ingredients list, but I think it adds a little something. I love that it uses ground turkey instead of beef! A slightly healthified twist that doesn’t affect the end product at all. I will say, the one adjustment I mad was to use whole-wheat macaroni. Who knows if that really makes much difference, but it seems like an easy enough replacement.

We’re still sort of in the dog days of summer here in Atlanta, with temperatures getting cool over night but up into the 80s during the day, but that hasn’t stopped me from pulling out some of the fall recipes. These two new discoveries will certainly be making it into the rotation the rest of this cool season!

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman