If you need a little extra warmth this winter, let eintopf be your go-to.
There are as many versions of eintopf, a hearty German stew, as there are people who love it. A traditional eintopf may include bratwurst and sauerkraut, but how it is cooked (eintopf translates to “one pot”) is more important than what goes in the pot. As long as you have meat and vegetables, you have the basis for eintopf.
I first got to know eintopf as a child. My parents moved us back to Lagos after completing graduate school in Berlin, and they shared eintopf with me and my siblings. They didn’t have a singular approach to it, and I don’t either. It’s a dish I am constantly refining and most likely always will be.
That’s because eintopf is as generous as it is brilliant for how well it takes to substitutions. Any root vegetable you have on hand will work, and any combination of two or three works best: Carrots, parsnips, beets, sunchokes and potatoes are just some options. Spicy greens, hearty greens or cabbages are ideal for finishing the stew, adding a bit of crunch.
This recipe highlights bone-in short ribs, which, like other tough but flavorful cuts of meat, will need time to break down, but they’ll eventually reach a point where the bones, juices and fat all make indiscernible contributions to the broth. The coconut milk provides a finish that suits me — an avoider of dairy — but you can add heavy cream or any other ingredient that thickens quickly without watering down the dish.
Once it’s out of the oven, you can then separate what you’ll save for the days ahead. To the portions I’ll be serving right away, I add kale, followed by a toss of reserved fennel fronds. At this point, the broth holds a certain brightness, but, if after tasting, a lime wedge or a quick zest of another citrus peel suits you, that would be lovely, too.
I’m a tireless devotee of one-pot meals. From them, I’ve learned new techniques, and about cuisines and ingredients that are unfamiliar to me. But my favorite one-pot meals are the ones that get better in the days after the cooking is done. By the second or third day, all the flavors you’ve developed have had time to get to know one another.
It’s the kind of cooking my parents did as students: building something in a single pot for a week’s worth of meals. For them, and now for me, there is comfort in returning to a good meal, especially one that holds as much warmth and memory as this cozy one-pot dish.