I am here to praise two things: first, my 5 litre (5.3 quart) cast iron Vardagen casserole pot. (There she is below. Isn’t she a beauty?)
Second, two recipes from Alison Roman’s Nothing Fancy (NF) that cook wonderfully in said pot. While there are a number of recipes from the Mains section of NF that are perfectly suited for the pot, two I have made recently are:
- One-Pot Chicken with Caramelized Lemon and Dates
- Harissa-Rubbed Pork Shoulder with White Beans and Spinach
Both require large pots to fit all that meat into them. The Vardagen suits them to a tee. It can go from the burner to the oven and you can cook with the lid on and off even with high oven heats.
Sure you can get a very expensive Le Crueset for hundreds of dollars, but why would you when for 60 bucks this wonderful cast iron number from Ikea does the job. It too looks wonderful, if not as colourful as something from some fancy French pot maker.
As for the recipes themselves, I have enjoyed them several times in different ways. For the first recipe, I have substituted the dates with prunes at one point and actually liked that better. I tried dried apricots but I felt they didn’t hold up as well as the prunes or dates. Also if you want the sauce a bit less acidic at the end, try adding a teaspoon of sugar to get the balance you want. Or go crazy like I did once and add a knob of butter and stir it around until the sauce is all nice and rich.
For the second recipe, the author used spinach instead of kale. You can honestly use any hardy green and it will turn out great. Likewise go crazy with your choice of bean. I used romano, but white or pinto or even a can of mixed beans would be good. I haven’t tried replacing the pork with beef or even lamb, but you could. Just make sure you cook it to the proper temperature.
Now, get yourself a big ole Vardagen pot from Ikea and Nothing Fancy from a bookstore like Indigo and get cooking.