Chef Susan Welling shares four one-pot meals

Chef Susan Welling.
Chef Susan Welling.

My parents were foodies before foodie was a word. In the ’70s, my mom, Charlene Welling, owned the original Classic Cup in Westport. She would phone me from the restaurant to get started on dinner when I arrived home from grade school. She would guide me through the prep stages of pot roasts, roasted chicken, meatloaf, deveining shrimp, husking corn, tearing bread for stuffing, slicing carrots, onions and celery, whatever was needed to get dinner ready for the table. I learned early on how to prepare one-pot dishes to feed our family. What I didn’t realize then was that would lead to my future career as a chef.

I still love to cook the simple, easy, one-pot dishes using the finest available ingredients and best cookware. My dad, Dan Welling, has always had a great sense of style and love of antiques and fine furnishings that he brought to the table. He taught our family about finding great china, stemware, and linens to showcase the good food we were serving. He always says to use the good stuff at all times. It makes the simplest one-pot dish elegant.

Living in California for many years opened my eyes to many culinary firsts. The food and diverse cultures educated my palate and aesthetic about flavor and presentation. But overall I learned that most chefs love the simple comfort of childhood food memories. The best dishes are the ones you create at home with family and friends.

Sunday suppers are one of my favorite ways to entertain. I get the prep done early in the day. Then the delicious aroma of my cooking greets my guests as they arrive. While supper is simmering on the stove, it’s fun to set a pretty table, bringing out the family heirloom china and stemware. I don’t follow any rules and love to mix up patterns, old with new, modern with traditional.

And the recipes I’m sharing here embody both the New- and Old-World traditions of one-pot love.

Side Dish

After graduating from the University of Kansas, Welling landing a pastry apprenticeship at San Francisco’s lauded Square One, under the tutorship of Joyce Goldstein. Her four years there taught her “more than culinary school ever could.” After moves to several more celebrated California restaurants, Welling moved back to Kansas City where she opened Honeymom’s. Named after her grandmother, the little breakfast and lunch-only bistro (with special weekend dinners) was one of the first restaurants in the up and coming Crossroads neighborhood. (And the scones were legendary.) Welling moved back to California, taking a break from cooking to manage Rancho Gordo, a specialty producer of heirloom beans. Now back in Kansas City, Welling works as a private chef for several local clients.


1 bunch red beets, unpeeled

1 cup water

2 crushed garlic cloves

2 tablespoons olive oil

Put all ingredients in a tagine pot (if you don’t have a tagine, a Dutch oven is a good substitute) and simmer on low. Cook until beets are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Leave in the pot to cool, and peel beets under cold water. Drain the beets, slice and set aside.

1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced

1 grapefruit sectioned (reserve juices)

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

2 ounces goat cheese

2 ounces sliced, toasted almonds

1/2 bag arugula

Salt and pepper

Whisk grapefruit juice, sugar and olive oil. Arrange arugula in a bowl and top with beets, onions, grapefruit segments, goat cheese, almonds, and vinegar.


6 chicken thighs, bone-in

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

6 cloves garlic, diced

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 cups tomato sauce

4 tablespoons honey

Salt and pepper

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

6 small potatoes, cut in half

4 tablespoons sesame seeds

Basil or tarragon leaves to garnish

Sauté chicken thighs in butter and olive oil in high heat until brown. Add onion and garlic, and simmer on low for four minutes. Add all other ingredients, minus carrots, potatoes and basil/tarragon, and cover. Cook for 30 minutes, then add carrots and potatoes. Garnish with basil and/or tarragon and sesame seeds.


½ pound Rancho Gordo beans

4 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups water

2 bay leaves

4 tablespoons kosher salt

½ pound Burgers’ bacon, browned until crisp

Rinse and soak beans two to four hours prior to cooking. In a heavy-bottomed pot, boil all ingredients except salt and bacon on high for 20 minutes, reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about one to two hours.

Add four tablespoons of kosher salt, and top with crispy Burgers’ bacon bits.


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

8 ounces butter

1/2 cup sugar

8 eggs, separated

Melt the chocolate and butter over water bath. Whip egg whites until they form a soft peak. Add sugar to the chocolate and butter mixture, and whisk. Fold in egg whites, then pour mixture in a nine-inch cake pan or large soufflé dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 325 degrees.