MasterChef winners Karena and Kasey Bird write a fortnightly food column in Living.

Kasey and Karena: One-dish wonders (+ recipes)

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Create mealtime treats and save on the washing up.

Try these delicious recipes by Kasey and Karena Bird. Photos / Michael Craig
Try these delicious recipes by Kasey and Karena Bird. Photos / Michael Craig

We are constantly cooking, creating new recipes and trying to improve old ones. There is huge satisfaction when we master a new technique we have been practising or when we finally get the balance of a certain sauce exactly right.

This feeling of contentment is quickly supplanted by dread as we stand in the wake of an epic clean up.

We have never had a dishwasher. Growing up we would take turns and rotate who would wash and who would dry and put away the dishes. It was the tiresome payoff for enjoying our mum's delicious dinners.

To this day, we still do all of our dishes by hand at our parents' house (where we eat the majority of our meals). Our mum refuses to install a dishwasher unless it is one of those industrial type ones you find in restaurants. We must admit when we are staying with our Aunty Aneta in Auckland we do appreciate being able to stack everything inside a machine and walk away!

Thus, we have become resourceful when cooking weeknight meals. One-dish dinners are a revelation in our household. Not only do they mean less mess but they also push us to become more creative when thinking about how to serve a satisfying meal with all of the components in one dish. These are three of our favourites.

Bacon-wrapped chicken with kumara

This is a classic combination. The bacon helps keep the breast meat moist and the salty flavour permeates the chicken as it cooks. The trick to nailing this dish is to ensure you cut the golden kumara quite small so it cooks at the same time as the chicken. The cider and stock will thicken slightly and become a light sauce to spoon over the chicken when you are ready to serve.

Bacon-wrapped chicken with kumara. Photo / Michael Craig.
Bacon-wrapped chicken with kumara. Photo / Michael Craig.

Serves 2

2 skinless chicken breasts
4 rashers streaky bacon
4 cloves garlic, skin on
1 kumara, peeled and cubed in to 2cm pieces
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Tbsp mustard
¼ cup cider
¼ cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp creme fraiche

1 Preheat oven to 200C. Wrap 2 pieces of bacon around each chicken breast and season with salt and pepper.

2 Crush the garlic lightly with a knife. In a small casserole dish, place the kumara, garlic and thyme. Combine the mustard with the cider and chicken stock and pour into the dish. Place the chicken on top of the ingredients, season and bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

3 To serve, dollop the creme fraiche straight into the dish and enjoy.

Kamokamo frittata

This is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We used kamokamo but you can use courgette or even thinly sliced potatoes, if you prefer. The magic comes from the dollops of blue cheese that are randomly placed on top before grilling in the oven. Serve with your favourite pickle, chutney or relish. We served ours with beetroot chutney.

Kamokamo frittata. Photo / Michael Craig.
Kamokamo frittata. Photo / Michael Craig.

Serves 6

Oil for frying
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 medium kamokamo or 2 courgettes, chopped in to 3 cm chunks
Salt and pepper
½ cup milk
7 eggs
150g blue cheese, crumbled into pieces
1 small handful fresh basil leaves, chopped (or other herbs)

1 Preheat oven to 180C. Heat the oil in a large pan on a medium heat. Fry the onion and garlic until translucent, add the kamokamo or courgette, and fry for a further two minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2 In a bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs and season well. Pour the egg into the pan over the vegetables, dot chunks of the cheese on top. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Fennel and pork sausage pasta

We wanted to experiment cooking pasta in one pot with the sauce rather than cooking each separately. Turns out you can cook pasta more like risotto by adding more liquid if it's needed as you go. What's awesome about cooking it this way is that it absorbs all of the flavour from the stock and meat.

Fennel and pork sausage pasta. Photo / Michael Craig.
Fennel and pork sausage pasta. Photo / Michael Craig.

Serves 4

1 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp oil for frying
1 onion, peeled and chopped
½ red chilli, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
500g fennel and pork sausages
½ cup wine
2 cups pasta shells
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to season
1 Tbsp parsley, chopped

1 In a large deep pan on a medium heat, toast the fennel seeds until they become fragrant. Remove from the pan.

2 Heat oil and add the onion, chilli and garlic and cook until translucent. Squeeze the meat out of the sausage casings and add with the fennel back to the pan. Cook until the meat is browned. Add the wine and cook until evaporated.

3 Add the pasta to the pot with the chicken stock, season well, and cook on a medium heat with the lid on until the pasta is cooked through, stirring occasionally. If the liquid has evaporated before the pasta is cooked, add some water to the pan and allow the pasta to cook.

4 Stir through the parsley and season to taste.

- Spy.co.nz

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