Sometimes we need to just taste the natural ingredients, no exotic herbs and spices just your chosen ingredients, slowly cooked together to marry into a simple, but hearty old fashioned plate of warming food.
Simple need not be boring, stripped back to the way our elders used to cook, gives us a sense of comfort and nostalgia. My gran used to make a pepper-heavy stew just like this and it was everything you needed to warm and nourish you.
My recipe is super easy to make and requires no browning, I subscribe to Heston Blumenthal’s outlook on browning meat. Which is in a casserole (cooked in the oven) or stew (cooked on the hob), I feel without sealing the walls of the meat you allow the ingredients to bubble away together from the start and the end result has a deeper richer flavour. I do this with curries, (meat, chicken and vegetable) as the spicing goes straight into the walls of the ingredients, even if it is a little less aesthetically pleasing. After you have cooked the stew or casserole, you can turn the grill on and brown the top, but honestly, I wouldn’t bother.
The casserole can be prepared in minutes and sits cooking in the oven for around two hours, needing only a few stirs, every so often if cooked on the hob, or in your slow cooker or oven no stirring at all.
A recipe seems a little contrived for what this is, just add whatever winter veg you love carrots, parsnips, swede, celery, butternut, potato, sweet potatoes, onions, leeks and as much or as little meat as you fancy. Without the addition of meat, this is a wonderful vegan, lactose-free meal. A third of the way up your dish add a stock, vegetable or match the meat to the stock and cook.
When we were children we would call this stew baby food stew, we used to have it with potatoes, carrots and celery, as it was everything you would mill together to feed a baby. I was known to melt a slice of butter into the vegetable stew and mash it with a fork, everything tastes more delicious with a little butter and mashed.
I decided to be frugal, chopping and adding the outer leaves of a head of cauliflower and the stalk from a bunch of parsley I had in the fridge. Both have many micronutrients including Vitamin C and cooked down into the stew undetected, but gave an extra dimension to the final plate of food.
You can add your favourite herbs if you want maybe a little thyme, bay leaf and rosemary depending on what meat and vegetables you are cooking. But this ‘naked casserole’ is delicious without anything other than the ingredients, stock, salt and pepper.
If you would like a mild flavoursome stew to try my Ethiopian Berbere Stew, is delicious. The stripped back to the natural flavours of this Simple Casserole was refreshing and easy. Strangely my son who adds Nandos sauce to most dinners didn’t even reach for the bottle with his plate of food.
Catering for friends and family, talking about food, finding new recipes and ideas, fills my creative soul. I have decided to indulge my passion through this Blog and I hope I can entice you to try what I love cooking and creating. Welcome to my eclectic world.