Tag Archives: Stew

Gumbo party

14 Mar

Is it a soup?

Is it a stew?

It’s a gumbo!

One of my colleagues is in his early 20s and is really just learning about cooking properly. A few weeks ago he was very proud of the chicken gumbo he had made. He was surprised how easy it was to make something so tasty.

Fast forward to this Monday, and I was at a bit of a loss as to what to cook for supper. All I knew I had in the fridge was a chorizo sausage. So, my colleague suggested chicken gumbo. Perfect!

The basic recipe which inspired this is on the bbc good food website here. If you haven’t checked out the recipes on bbc good food, you’ve missed out.  Go on, have a browse – they have more pics than I usually do.

A top tip here: chop up everything else and put them in bowls (doubling things up that are being thrown in the pan together) before you cut up your chicken. That way, you just need to clean the knife and the board at the end.

Chicken Gumbo

  • 4 – 5 chicken thighs, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, smooshed up
  • 1 green chilli, sliced finely
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped finely
  • 1 TBsp plain flour
  • 1 large tin/carton chopped tomatoes
  • a chicken stock cube
  • a mug of boiling water
  • 1 courgette, cut into chunks
  • 2 red peppers, cut into chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a couple of stalks of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • about 100g chorizo, chopped into chunks
  • a couple of new potatoes, cut into small chunks
  • a few handfuls of spinach
  1. Using a wee bit of oil, fry off the chicken in a large heavy bottomed frying pan
  2. Remove the chicken, and let it rest in a bowl till you’re ready for it again
  3. Add the celery and onion to the pan, and cook over a gentle heat till the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for another couple of minutes
  4. Add the flour to the veg, stir and cook for a minute or so.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, chicken stock cube and boiling water and stir together
  6. Put the chicken back in the pan, followed by all other ingredients, except for the spinach, and simmer with a lid on for about 20 minutes
  7. Add the spinach and stir through – it won’t really need further cooking as the spinach will just wilt into the gumbo
  8. EAT!
This is great the next day once the flavours have melded together. I had it on its own as there is plenty veg in there with the meat. However, if you want more carbs, it would be lovely with noodles or rice.
It’s a pretty flexible recipe – add peas, sweetcorn, even prawns or fish. And make it as spicy or plain as you want. But you knew that already.
Next year it’s Gumbo instead of pancakes for Shrove Tuesday!

Slowly does it….

6 Dec

So, a few weeks ago I purchased a slow cooker. I’d never really thought of buying one before, and had no desire to own one.  But someone at work was talking about theirs and how brilliant it is to come home in the evening to a tasty stew or casserole, ready when you walk in the door.

So, I weighed it up:

Pros

  1. Delicious hot food ready when I get home from work
  2. I love stews and casseroles
  3. It fits in with low carb lifestyle – easy way to eat meat
  4. It will add variety to my current diet during the week, which currently relies on speedy meals when I get in
  5. I’ll be able to cook tasty meals with cheaper cuts of meat
  6. I can freeze what I don’t eat straight away (or chuck it in the fridge for the next day)
  7. It’s a new challenge
  8. It might encourage me to be more organised about meals, therefore less likely to impulse buy bad food

Cons

  1. Will I worry all day that I’ve left a hot plate on in the flat and it will burn down?
  2. What if I’ve set it on in the morning, but end up not getting home till really late?
  3. I’ll never have time in the morning to get it going
  4. If I do have time, I’ll end up oh so hungry before lunchtime
  5. I’ll never be organised enough to be in on consecutive nights, one to buy meat, the next to eat it
  6. I don’t have room for it in the teeny tiny kitchen

So.  The cons seemed to be mostly things I could overcome quite easily. So I bought one.  Cheap, on amazon. I won’t bother giving you a linky thing there – I’m sure you can find one there for yourself if you want it.

But anyway.. I’ve not used the slow cooker too often, mainly because the con number 5 is very real.  It’s relatively rare that I’m in my flat two nights in a row. And I’m never here at weekends. So, clearly I have to spend less time going out and more staying in and saving money eating tasty cheap stews and casseroles.

Yesterday evening I bought some stewing steak, from the local supermarket, ready diced.

And this morning I made a gingered beef stew in the slow cooker.  It probably took me about 15 minutes before I went to work. OK, maybe 20 minutes tops, but really no longer.  And I was still in work early.

Gingered beef stew

My slow cooker instructions tell me I need to turn the machine on to high for 20 minutes before I put the ingredients in.  So, before I went in for my shower, I turned the cooker on to high and took the beef out of the fridge.  I also assembled all the other ingredients. Then when I was dressed I chopped, stirred and threw the whole thing together.

olive oil

440g diced stewing steak

1 onion, cut in chunks

a knob of butter

about 1TBsp flour

a big squidge of tomato puree

balsamic vinegar – a big splash, maybe about 1-2 TBsps

1 large tsp muscovado sugar

about 1″ fresh ginger, chopped finely

2 bay leaves

tin of chopped tomatoes

beef stock cube

  1. Splash some olive oil into a big frying pan, and once it’s hot add the beef to brown it
  2. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside
  3. Put the butter in the pan, with the onion, cut into large chunks.  Reduce the heat to gently cook the onion (it should take 5-10 mins to get soft and translucent)
  4. Throw in the flour, and stir around, then add the all the other ingredients, except the tin of tomatoes.
  5. Add a good splash of water from the kettle, and stir well to create a thick sauce
  6. Now add the tin of tomatoes
  7. Now put the beef into the slow cooker, and then add the sauce on top
  8. Turn the heat down to slow, or whatever.

Go to work.  Come home and eat with savoy cabbage. Or cauliflower. Or broccoli. Or I guess you could have potatoes or linguine if you wanted the carbs.

The great thing about this is that it can be dressed up with more flavours – garlic, herbs, chilli pepper – if you have time.  But just as it is it’s a pretty tasty dish.

 

 

Making room in the freezer

6 Mar

My boyfriend’s daughters are coming for supper on Friday.  They are bringing their babies with them, aged nearly two and nearly one.  I get on well with them, which is good, and they like my home cooking which is also good.

I usually get back here from work at about 7.30pm, which to me is too late to start cooking anything elaborate, or some evenings anything at all.  G is good at judging this moment, and last Friday suggested we went down to our local hotel/bistro for a bite to eat.  We both had fish and chips (reliably tasty) followed by a platter of cheese and biscuits (not worth it) and washed down with a perfectly acceptable sauvignon blanc.  A taxi took us home and we walked down through the woods, and along by the river to pick up the car the next morning – a lovely way to start the day (followed by a trip to the farmers market, the royal mail depot and the post office).

But back to next Friday.  The daughters.  I decided it would be easiest to make a big stew and put it in the freezer – G can take it out on Thursday night and leave it in the fridge, and then re-heat it on Friday before picking me up from the station.

Except that really there wasn’t room for even a scoop of ice cream in the freezer. So, out came the bags of frozen damsons picked from the tree last autumn. And they are now bubbling away on the stove, filling the house with that deliciously autumnal plummy aroma.  I made plumbrillo for the first time in the autumn, and loved it.  In fact I loved it so much I gave it all away.  So now I’m making some to keep – some will stay in the valley, the rest will go back to the city, and will jazz up my lunches, no doubt accompanied by cheese from Mellis the Cheesemonger.  Yum.

So, the brown stew.  The name isn’t particularly appetising is it?  But it’s what G calls it, rolling the R in brrrrrown to render the word almost unrecognisable.

I started off at our local butchers and bought 1.5kg of shoulder steak.

Put about a cupful of plain flour into a large bowl, and season with lots of pepper and some salt.  And any herbs you might like.

Cut any excess fat or gristly bits off the steak and cut into bitesize pieces.  Bitesize can really be whatever you like, but I like them big enough to bite, but small enough that a piece can go in your mouth whole. Remember though that they will shrink a bit on cooking.

Throw the pieces of meat into the bowl of flour, and mix around every so often to make sure all the pieces are individually coated.

Fry the meat, a little at a time, in a butter/oil mix in a large pan.  Each batch should only just cover the base of the pan, anymore and it won’t fry properly. Fry until brown on one side and then flip them all over individually. Yes, this is time-consuming, but worth it.  When each batch is cooked (it doesn’t need to be cooked through, just nicely brown on each side) put them in a bowl while you get on with the next lot.

The pan you use should be a big casserole that can hold the whole stew and go in the oven quite happily.

When you’ve done all the meat add a couple of chopped onions to the pan, a wee bit more butter/oil if you need it and a teaspoonful or so of sugar.  Gently fry the onions over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, till they’re nicely caramelised.  While they are frying prepare some other things to put in the stew: chop up some carrot and turnip; finely chop a clove or two of garlic; cut up some mushrooms or peppers if you want, but keep them in nice big chunks or they will disappear in the stew. If you like it spicy, feel free to chop a chilli or two.

Once the onions are caramelised add the garlic, followed quickly by the other veg. Saute for a wee minute or two.  Or five.

Add a couple of tablespoons of worcestershire sauce and the same of tomato puree.  Throw in any herbs or spices you want – I like to throw in a bit of spicy dry harissa I have in a jar and always a bay leaf or two. I think I bought the harissa online a year or so ago, and it packs a great punch, and a wonderful heat at the end of each mouthful of stew.

But I digress.

You now need to chuck the meat back in, and add enough beef stock to just cover the whole stew and give the whole thing a good stir.  Bring back to a slow simmer, and put in the oven for at least a couple of hours simmering away.

And that’s it.

If possible, make it the day before so the flavours can meld and develop. Give it a taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Eat with mashed potatoes, and savoy cabbage.

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