Chef’s Tips for a 5-Star Meal with 1 Pan


By Paul Kahan

Paul Kahan is a yacht chef and the founder of NRG Foods (a healthy protein bar company) who also lives with type one diabetes. For 8 years now, Paul has cooked exclusively for several families on their superyachts and private estates around the US, Caribbean, and the Bahamas. Working with very limited space on yachts has taught Paul how to apply simple techniques from common household items to create a 5-star meal.

I thought it would be helpful to hear from Paul and have him give us his best practices for creating a 5- star meal in the comfort of your own home.

Here are Paul’s top tips for you:

The Success Is in the Skillet

Invest in a well seasoned Cast Iron Skillet. I sear, saute, shallow fry, and even bake in my Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. This type of pan will also become your best friend if you hate doing dishes. I would also recommend a shallow edged non-stick pan if you’re looking to go with something a bit lighter and more conventional.

Wait Until It Sizzles

It is so important to preheat your pan (note: this should not only be with your cast iron but any type of pan you are using). Unless you want soggy vegetables, rubbery chicken, weird grey-looking steak or steamed seafood, heat up your pan for at least five minutes on medium to medium-high heat. The oil should be just barely smoking when you toss your food in; this will ensure great caramelization and a perfect sear.

Getting Started

You should preheat your oven to 175-200 degrees. Afterwards, sear and cook meat to the desired doneness and set aside. Make sure to let all meat rest 5-10 minutes to reabsorb juices and of course, fully cook chicken if that’s what you’re having that evening.  Toss in veggies, drizzle with a bit of olive oil or knob of butter and season, season, season! Set veggies aside, add more olive oil or butter, and toss in thin scalloped or diced potatoes (I usually like tossing in some red peppers and diced onions with this)…again season, season, season! Use salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme…whatever is clever that evening in your spice pantry.

One-Pan Meal

Lastly, throw everything back into the Cast Iron and place into your preheated oven for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking potatoes, and reheat the steak and vegetables. Now you have an entire meal in cast iron that will keep your meal warm for a good while until you decide to plate it up; honestly I sometimes just eat it right out of the Cast Iron!

Easy Cleanup

Congrats! You have used one pan that doesn’t require extensive cleaning to create an amazing meal. Simply wait for the Cast Iron to cool down, wipe clean with a paper towel or a regular damp towel, dry off and re-season with veggie or canola oil.

Quarantine Cooking Bonus Tip

Do yourself a favor and buy an Instantpot or Breville Pressure cooker, they are incredibly cheap on Amazon and these save my life when days just aren’t going my way and I want something easy, fast, and full of flavor. An Instantpot will cook rice in less than 15 minutes, mouthwatering shredded chicken in less than 45 minutes (add chicken breast/adobo seasoning/mojo marinade and press “on”!), and if you build up enough confidence you can bake a cake, yes a friggin’ cake in less than 35 minutes!

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