College Concoctions: The One Skillet Wonder

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What’s a college concoction?

It looks something like that.

You’ll probably be seeing quite a few ‘college concoctions’ around digintobooks this summer because I’m preparing my brother for his life next year living off campus. See, last year (his freshman year of college), he had access to the cafeteria and was able to eat there for all of his meals. He took full advantage of the all-you-can-eat buffet style lines (notably cramming pounds upon pounds of trout into his mouth when they had that available) but maintained a healthy, balanced lifestyle while eating all of the food that he could. After a year of college, he’s come home stronger and taller with his six-pack still intact and his appetite still huge.

Which brings me to the meaning of college concoction: a meal that is relatively inexpensive, can be prepared by a busy college boy, and offers enough nutrition and sheer quantity to fill a growing guy up. My mission this summer is to teach my brother to make as many meals as he can so that next year when he moves into his off-campus house (I’m so excited for him!) he’ll be able to prepare great meals for himself and his friends. And as he always says, the food might help him ‘in case it’s a long winter’.

First up is a meal that I made for the first time last summer after Erik and I went to our local amusement park together. We walked past the concessions and an employee was cooking up a huge batch of skillet food to sell. The aroma of potatoes, onions, and spices were so enticing, but we weren’t prepared to spend ten dollars on a meal that wouldn’t fill both of us up. Right when we got home last year, I whipped up a batch of my own take on the skillet dish and we loved it. I decided to make it my first meal to teach Erik. It’s literally all cooked in one skillet and requires only 20 minutes of time. In addition, all the ingredients are simply cubed or chopped which means there isn’t much culinary expertise required. The ingredients are cheap and available throughout the year, which means that this meal is great during the summer months, or as a hearty, warming dish in the winter months. Additionally, the meal is versatile. I’m not sure how well-stocked my college-boy brother will keep his pantry, but you could easily substitute canned green beans for corn, any meat for the sausage, sweet potatoes for russet potatoes, or add any vegetables to the skillet that need to be used up.

For this meal, I’m including pictures during most steps just so that when Erik re-creates this at college he remembers all of the important steps and how to do everything for himself!

The One Skillet Wonder
Ingredients (serves one hungry guy – double the ingredients to serve additional people)
1 medium-sized potato
1/2 white onion
1/2 link pre-cooked smoked sausage (Hillshire Farms)
1/2 can of corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 – 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Salt, pepper, paprika (to taste)
How To
1. Cut the potato into cubes. 

2. Put the potatoes into a skillet with the tablespoon of olive oil and about a 1/4 cup of broth. Heat the skillet to medium heat and let the potatoes cook for about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. Make sure you’ve got a lid on the potatoes so you don’t splatter oil all over your stove, or burn the potatoes. Add broth as needed! Don’t let the potatoes get dry.

3. While potatoes are cooking, chop up onion, slice sausage, and drain the water from the corn.

4. After about fifteen minutes (or when potatoes become mostly soft), add sausage to the pan. Cook for five minutes. Make sure to keep adding broth as necessary.

5. Last, add onions, corn, and spices. Cook until all ingredients are thoroughly heated. Pour the contents of the skillet onto a plate and dig in!! Be sure to add some fruit on the side to complement the meal, as well as some fresh veggies or a side salad!

In Erik’s words, this meal “was sick”. In the good, out-of-this-world, can’t-believe-it’s-this-simple, kind of way. He scarfed the contents of the skillet down for dinner (sparing a bite for me to try). He loved the simplicity of the ingredients, the smoky flavor that the paprika adds, and how cheap all of the ingredients were.

College Concoctions Round One = Success!

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4 responses »

  1. Love this recipe – it will serve your brother well for many years to come ;)

    What’s great about a one-pan meal like this is that he can start changing out ingredients for whatever he has on hand. No potatoes? Throw in some leftover pasta. Out of sausage? Use cooked chicken or brown some ground beef. The sky is the limit with this one – great idea!

    • I totally agree with how easy it is to substitute ingredients! I was going to add to the post that vegetarians or vegans could easily enjoy the dish too by using vegetable broth and substituting seitan or tempeh for the sausage. Hope you enjoy the dish (or whatever variation you make)!

  2. Love it! This is a great one for a busy Momma as well! I’m all about a well rounded meal with only one skillet to clean up! Keep up the good work!

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