All the joy, half the washing up in these delicious one-pot wonder recipes

There's something so comforting and cosy about one-pot meals. When you crave ease and simplicity and don't relish the thought of juggling multiple pots and pans, a recipe where each element cooks alongside the other, that's my idea of convenience food. And best of all, the wash-up is minimal.

he three recipes I'm sharing today might, at a glance, seem wintry, but they are perfectly adaptable, depending on whether it's chilly or sunny outside. Simply serve any of these dishes with salads rather than spuds and you have the perfect meal for our uncertain weather.

One-pot meals have a tendency to be straightforward and unchallenging, which is just what we need in these strange and unsettling times. An Indian biryani is the classic one-pot dish, where a curry of meat, fish or vegetables is made with semi-cooked rice added in half-way through. This version, right, made with chicken, is as soothingly satisfying as it is fuss-free.

Sausages may be the ultimate comfort food. This recipe, far right, is a very simplified version of the classic French one-pot cassoulet, but without the duck confit or lamb chops - though, of course, either would work well if they were popped in.

Feel free to use whichever sausages you fancy, and if you like, you could include some cabanossi or chorizo sausages in the total weight as they will bring some extra flavour. This dish will taste even better reheated the next day - and the meat-free version, made without sausages, is also delicious.

My beef and red wine hot pot recipe, also below, is good for fuelling your inner-radiator on a cool early summer's evening.

The rich stew and gravy is brightened with a little vinegar, and it's all soaked up by the sliced potatoes on top. If you're making this a day in advance, just make the beef stew and add the potatoes shortly before eating. Cooked in the oven, the potatoes turn gorgeously golden and crisp; as my mother in law often says, "Simply delicious".

Rachel recommends

When you're using ground coriander and cumin, for the best flavour, start with whole seeds. Toast them in a pan over a medium heat for a minute or two, then crush them using a pestle and mortar.

Beef and red wine hotpot

Serves 6

You will need:

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

250g button mushrooms, halved (or quartered if they are large)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 small onions, peeled and sliced

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1.5kg stewing beef, cut into 4cm chunks

150ml red wine

100ml beef stock or chicken stock

3 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

650g floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 5mm-thick slices

25g butter, diced

1 You will also need a large casserole dish or an ovenproof saucepan with a lid. Preheat the oven to 150°C, 300°F, Gas 2.

2 Put the casserole dish or saucepan on a medium-high heat and add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms. Season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper and toss them for 2-3 minutes or until they are lightly golden. Remove the mushrooms from the dish or pan and set them aside, leaving any oil behind in the pan.

3 If there isn't much oil left in the dish or pan, add the remaining tablespoon. Tip in the sliced onions and the finely chopped garlic, stir over the heat, then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook them for 4-5 minutes, or until they start to turn golden at the edges.

4 Add the chunks of stewing beef, the red wine, the beef stock or the chicken stock, whichever you are using, and 2 teaspoons of the chopped thyme leaves. Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and put the hotpot in the preheated oven to cook for 1¼-1½ hours, or until the meat is just tender.

5 Take the hotpot out of the oven and turn the heat up to 230°C, 450°F, Gas 8.

6 Stir in the fried mushrooms and the red wine vinegar. Arrange the potato slices over the beef in the pan (it's fine if there's more than one layer). Scatter over the remaining teaspoon of chopped thyme leaves and season with some more salt and freshly ground black pepper. Dot with the diced butter. Place the hotpot back in the (now hotter) oven and bake it for a further 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through and beginning to turn golden. Bring to the table and serve.

Chicken biryani

Serves 4-6

You will need:

5 green cardamom pods

300g basmati rice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

25g butter

1 large onion, peeled and finely sliced

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped root ginger

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

1 x 5cm piece of cinnamon stick

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

75g raisins

800ml chicken stock

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

4 tablespoons flaked almonds

1 To extract the cardamom seeds from the pods, place the pods on a chopping board. Put the flat side of a large knife over the pods and press down to lightly crush them. Remove the seeds and discard the pods. Lightly crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar.

2 Put the basmati rice in a heatproof bowl, season it with salt and cover it with boiling water.

3 Melt the butter in a large saucepan on a medium heat and, when it is foaming, add the finely sliced onion, the finely chopped garlic, the finely chopped ginger, the ground turmeric, the ground cumin, the ground coriander, the cayenne pepper, the bay leaf, the cinnamon stick and the crushed cardamom seeds. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the onion is softened and slightly browned.

4 Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for three minutes, or until the chicken is opaque and cooked through.

5 Drain the basmati rice and rinse it under cold running water, then stir it into the saucepan, along with the raisins. Pour in the chicken stock, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir all the ingredients together. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer the biryani for 8-10 minutes or until the rice is cooked.

6 Remove the saucepan from the heat, taste for seasoning, adding more salt and freshly ground black pepper if necessary, then stir in the chopped fresh coriander and the flaked almonds. Divide between warmed bowls to serve.

Rachel's top tip

Making your own breadcrumbs is a great way of using up stale bread. Just tear the bread into chunks and whizz it in a food processor or liquidiser until the crumbs are almost fine. Use them straight away or store them in the freezer.

Bean and sausage casserole

Serves 8

You will need:

400g dried haricot beans, or 3 x 400g tins of cooked haricot beans

Olive oil

8 large sausages, about 600g in total, cut into 4cm chunks

3 large red onions, sliced into wedges through the root

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon of chopped thyme

1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary, see In Season, below

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

3-4 teaspoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar

For the breadcrumb topping, you will need:

150g breadcrumbs - see my Top Tip, left

4 tablespoons of herbs (such as parsley, chives, rosemary, thyme)

40g grated cheese (use whatever leftover cheese you have in the fridge, or Cheddar)

1 If you are using dried haricot beans, put them in a bowl and cover them well with cold water. Allow them to soak for at least six hours, or overnight. Drain the beans, then put them in a saucepan and cover them with fresh water. Place the pan on a medium-to-high heat, then bring to the boil and allow it to simmer until the beans are really nice and soft. Don't drain the water, as this has great flavour and will be used.

2 While the beans are cooking, put a large saucepan or casserole pot on a high heat and add a small drizzle of olive oil. Tip in the sausage chunks and cook them for a few minutes until they are a light golden colour all over. Tip the sausage chunks out on a plate and set them aside, leaving any oil in the pot.

3 Next, add in the onion wedges and the finely chopped garlic, season with some salt and freshly ground black pepper, and turn down the heat to allow the onions to cook slowly, until they are tender and a little golden, which should take about 8-10 minutes. Next add in the sausage chunks you set aside earlier, the chopped thyme, the chopped rosemary, the tinned chopped tomatoes, the caster sugar, the red wine vinegar or the balsamic vinegar, whichever you are using, the cooked haricot beans and all the cooking water. If you're using tinned haricot beans, add a can of water along with the tinned beans and all the liquid.

4 Turn the heat to high, bring the casserole up to the boil, then turn the heat down so the whole mixture can simmer, uncovered, for about 30-40 minutes. Keep stirring it regularly. When it is ready, the tomatoes will have softened completely, the beans will have absorbed lots of flavour from the rest of the dish, and the liquid will have reduced a bit so that the beans and sausages are just peeping out of the surface of the liquid. If the mixture is too dry, just add a little water. If it's too saucy, simmer it, uncovered, for a bit longer.

5 While the casserole is simmering, make the breadcrumb topping. In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, the chopped herbs and the grated cheese. Taste the tomato and bean casserole mixture, adding more seasoning or vinegar, if necessary. The casserole mixture can be made in advance up to this point. It will also freeze well.

6 When you're ready to serve, scatter the breadcrumb mixture over the hot stew and place it either under a hot grill or in a very hot oven (230°C, 450°F, Gas 8) for about 5-15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and toasted on top. Serve the casserole on warmed plates or in shallow bowls.

In season: basil



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