There’s a very good reason our ancestors cooked meat and grain in the same pot: the combination is comforting, filling and mouth-watering
The combination of meat and grain is an ancient tradition. Such one-pot wonders have been simmering away for centuries, not least for reasons of necessity and efficiency: necessity in that the addition of a starch is a way to make meat stretch further; efficiency in that, by cooking everything in a single pot, very little goes to waste.
These days, we no longer regard a whole joint of meat as an extravagance, and we cook for reasons other than necessity – but there’s still a place for this old-fashioned way of cooking. I take great pleasure in the frugality of the one-pot dish (no waste, very little washing up) and the simplicity of feeding many mouths with relatively little meat. But, more than anything, I’m drawn to the tradition for reasons of flavour, robustness and comfort, particularly at this time of year. The long, slow cooking of a one-pot dish allows for an exchange of flavours between the stock, meat and grains that is second to none. The tender, giving meat provides all the comfort you could ask for, while the grain provides the robustness you need when the weather turns cold. Which is as good a reason as any to keep cooking this way for many more years to come.