How to prepare an oven dish: step-by-step

Power Cooking is all about multi-tasking and keeping things simple. Thankfully, our oven dishes are as simple as they come!

Creating a delicious, moist and healthy family meal needn’t take all night. With the Power Cooking approach all you need to do is chop, mix and cook. There's no pre-browning, no sautéing and absolutely no fuss. We know it's not a typical approach, but it really does work!

There is one thing you need to be aware of. There is almost no liquid in the pot when it goes in the oven. But don't panic… just trust us, cover and cook and the sauce will come!

Here we take you step-by-step through the process:

  1. Prepare ingredients
  2. Put everything in the pot and mix well
  3. Cover and cook, and the sauce will come!
  4. Remove lid and brown lightly
  5. 'Finish off' by adding any remaining ingredients
  6. Thicken your sauce

If you are a beginner cook, or new to Power Cooking it's a good idea to read on!

1. Prepare ingredients

Peel, grate or chop all ingredients listed in your recipe. Cover and set aside any ingredients listed under 'finish off' for later.

chop chicken

2.Put everything in the pot and mix well

Select the right sized pot for the quantity of serves, then simply throw everything in. Make sure you leave out the 'finish off' ingredients because you'll need them later. Give it a good stir to combine all the ingredients.

If you're concerned about the fact that there is almost no liquid in the pot, just stay calm. All will be revealed!

notstirred stirred

3.Cover and cook, and the sauce will come!

cover It's time to put the lid on and start cooking. We know there's almost no liquid in the pot but in an hour or so you'll have a delicious dish, and here's how:

Because nothing has been browned or sautéed, your meat will release liquid and your vegetables will break down while cooking. This magically creates the sauce without any effort from you!

The small amount of liquid you have added is vital. It's been carefully calculated so that when your dish has finished cooking the sauce is just right; too little and it will be overcooked, too much and it may taste bland, particularly after freezing.

You'll be tempted to check inside the pot while it's cooking, but it’s important to resist, let it cook for about an hour before you lift the lid. You need to give the oven a chance to heat the dish up so it can start doing its thing.

4. Remove the lid and brown lightly

uncover When your timer goes, pull your dish out of the oven. When you lift the lid you'll find a near-cooked dish complete with sauce. Give it a stir if you like, then leave the lid off and pop it back in the oven.

In this final stage your dish will start to brown up on the surface and get that lovely oven richness happening. We've allowed 20-30 minutes for browning and thickening, but you might like to leave it an extra 10-15 minutes.

5. 'Finish off’ by adding any remaining ingredients

Finishing off is a step unique to our recipes and is vital for ensuring a quality result on defrosting and/or reheating.

Some ingredients lose their punch if cooked for too long so by adding them at the end we can be sure of a full-bodied flavour after storing. Typical additions at this point include spices, tomato paste, fresh herbs and some fresh green vegetables. Follow the specific instructions in your recipe under 'Finish Off.' This may include correcting seasonings if you think it needs extra salt and pepper or a flavour boost.

6. Thicken your sauce

thicken A thicker sauce clings nicely to your meat which helps protect it during freezing and preserve taste and texture on reheating. Thickening is important so don't forget! Basically while your dish is hot, add your sauce thickener a little at a time and stir through until the sauce thickens to your liking. The thickening recipe (water and flour) is included with every recipe as part of your 'finishing off' instructions. For more details see How to thicken a sauce.