Posts Tagged ‘stew’

Autumn finally decided to creep out from behind the shade of the beach umbrellas and tiptoe into the limelight of falling leaves and cooler, darker evenings.

The duvet finally came out.

Over the past week the temperatures have dropped; especially noticeable at night time and early morning.  Autumn has made a proper appearance and it doesn’t feel as if it’s going anywhere in a rush.

So what does this mean in terms of the kitchen and the food we eat?  If we are trying to eat seasonal it means that there are some great opportunities to be had with game at this time of year.  Venison steaks with blackcurrants and blackberries is absolutely delicious as is the one pot dish of duck magret with cannellini beans.

But I’m not after something that will be a quick flash in the pan; on these cooler, darker evenings nothing calls out to me as much as a hearty venison stew.

The great thing about a stew is that it’s a chance for you to experiment with cheaper cuts of meat that are packed full of flavour that you might not be accustomed to using, however they will generally need longer, slower cooking on the hob or in the oven.  If you’re not pushed for time putting a stew together can be very liberating as there are no measures or rules you must adhere to – it’s go with the flow time.

Venison Stew

This is what I do but is by no means a recipe that you need to follow – most of the ingredients are optional and you can substitute them for those you prefer.

I use diced venison dredged in seasoned flour and coloured in the pan.  Then fry onions in the meaty juices at the bottom of the pan (you may need to add more butter).  Deglaze the pan with red wine or port and then add the diced venison back into the pan.  Add potatoes and top with either or a combination of the three: water/beef stock/tinned tomatoes.  Chop mushrooms into quarters and add to the pot.  Make sure to season well, add oregano and bay leaves and chilli flakes for added warmth.  Chop a couple of carrots lengthways and place into the pot.  Bring to the boil on the hob and then put into a low oven 160˚C for 2 hours.  After two hours fish out the carrots and add green beans.  Let the beans cook in the residual heat of the stew.

Cook’s treat: sprinkle sea-salt and drizzle olive oil over the carrots and have as a sneaky treat before serving everyone else!

But the best thing about a stew is that with whatever is leftover you could always turn it into a pie the following day.

Venison Pie

Either use shop bought pastry or make your own shortcrust pastry.

Line a tart tin and bake blind in the oven.  Remove your baking beads/pulses and egg wash the base – baking for a further few minutes until golden.  The reason for this being that the egg wash will prevent your pie from having a soggy bottom.  No one likes a soggy bottom!

Chop the potatoes into smaller pieces and add as much leftover stew as you dare.  Then top the pie with either a full cover (make sure to leave some vent holes for the steam to escape) or create a simple lattice pattern over the top.  If the idea of having to make a pie is scaring you, a pasty might be easier but I would use ready-rolled, shop bought puff pastry for this.

If however, the thought of having to eat the same again is putting you off giving this a go remember that stews freeze very well.  I would fish out the beans and potatoes before freezing and probably serve this with fresh veg and mash next time!

Perfect for Bonfire’s Night to be eaten outside watching the fireworks…

It’s not very often that I can say this, well, once there was a salmon and spinach en croute thing that should NEVER be repeated but nonetheless I tend to be adventurous as well as optimistic in the kitchen. However, whilst trawling the aisles at the supermarkets I’ve always tried to look for something unfamiliar that I should be able to cook. If I don’t have the skill set to cope with certain foods then it is up to me to research what it is that I need to do to be able to do to work with that ingredient and it was this supermarket-philosophy that I picked up ox-tail at my last food shop.

Having researched online as to what treatment this cut of meat needed as to create the perfect winter warmer, I set about the task.

Visually, this looked fatty and therefore I imagined would need several hours of slow cooking.

I rushed home after work and dredged the ox-tail through seasoned flour and sealed the meat in hot butter and oil. In the meaty flavoured fat I gently fried the onions, celery and carrots (aka mirepoix). Once these were translucent I added the sealed ox-tails and added a glass of red wine, beef stock, seasoning and herbs.

Whilst I had a much needed power-nap the ox-tails were stewing for the desired time (3hrs) in a low oven (180°C). I even added the potatoes within 45mins of the remaining cooking time as instructed by the online recipe.

As delicious and welcoming as this pot looks it fooled me too!

“This is an eat at the table meal – preferably with lots of napkins!”

The meat was not falling off the bone as the recipe suggested. I made a mess of the shirt I was wearing as I tried to negotiate the meat from the sinew. My table cloth is also in need of a washing machine!

I would not be much of a food writer if all I ever wrote about were my kitchen successes. If anyone can produce an ox-tail stew worth its credit please send me your recipe as I would be more than happy to try it again and give this meat the credit I have heard so much about.

“With a heavy heart and a somewhat heavy stomach I write that I was disappointed with dinner.”


Posted: February 7, 2012 in Childhood, Family
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My parents are in the process of redecorating their kitchen and getting rid of kitchenware they no longer want; subsequently passing it onto me! In between random cutlery sets and unwanted easter-egg mugs they have given me a stainless steel pot which according to both Mum and Dad, they bought in Portugal some 20 years ago.

20 years ago I was only 13 years old! At this age we still lived at my Grandparents’ house and it got me thinking about the meals that this pot would have catered for us over the years.

My Granny was fantastic in the kitchen. She fed 7 of us a cooked lunch everyday. Mum helped Gran with dinner when she got back from work . On Saturdays another 4 of us would be present for lunch! This was no easy achievement on a limited budget, supplies and a small kitchen area.

But like all women of her generation she made the most of every penny that was in the food budget and made sure never to waste anything.

The family never went hungry. Yet how was this all possible?

Organisation. Granny had a repertoire of set favourites that we all loved. For lunch between Mondays and Thursdays we ate combinations of the following: Shepherd’s Pie (really cottage pie) with baked beans or pastel de corned beef (corned beef pie); chicken/corned beef/tuna in rice; gallina al horno (chicken pieces in a white wine gravy); sausage, egg and chips. Fridays was always a steak and kidney pie and chips (as Gran went to the hairdressers), Saturdays would be Rosto (macaroni in tomato sauce with chopped sausages and topped with bacon) which she could bulk out with pasta and Sundays, the quintessential roast.

On some occasions and when the weather called for it Granny would make potaje (pronounced po-tah-hay). This could be in the form of a chickpea or butter bean stew with chorizo and blackpudding, as well as another one made with spinach or lentil stew with pumpkin and chorizo. Served with fried chickpea flour based tortillas perfect for cleaning the plate. Another of Granny’s winter warmers was sopa de calavacines (white marrow soup with dairylea and small vermicelli pasta).

The sopa de calavacines is super easy to make and one that I make often; see Recipes.

I have never made nor wanted to make potaje before. My brother loathed it and it loathed him! But my mantra, ‘if it doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ meant I was willing to try anything once. Feeling the cold and holding this 20 year old pot in my hands made me feel very nostalgic about the food of my childhood and I tried to evoke it from tast memory. Here goes:

Potaje de Alubias, lomo, morcilla y chorizo (White pea bean stew with pork, black pudding and chorizo)

Using pulses in stews is typical peasant food. They are cheap, highly nutritious and ideal for large numbers of people. Even though they are ‘meaty’ in texture they can be quite bland tasting therefore they need a flavour injection.

1st: Either soak your beans over night and then boil for 2 hours OR buy a jar of precooked beans that you are confident using.

2nd: Chop a medium onion and fry in some olive oil. Add crushed garlic. I also added a chopped red chilli.

3rd: Slice chorizo and morcilla and fry in the olive oil. This will release a lot of sweet, smoked paprika flavoured oil into the pot. Add the pieces of pork and cook in these juices.

4th: Chop a large tomato and add to the pot.

5th: Once the tomato has broken down add the cooked beans. Simmer for a few mins. Serve hot with fresh parsely spinkled over.

Not exactly like Granny used to make but I am sure she would be very proud! ENJOY!