Friday 24 November 2017

Hearty stews and soups - Winter warmers on a budget

Root veg are at their best right now, so make the most of them

Traditional stew.
Traditional stew.
Chicken and potato stew.
Haddock soup

Katy McGuinness

These are the weeks when hearty stews and warming soups are most appealing. Leave the juices and salads for when the weather starts to warm up and the evenings are a little brighter, and listen to what your body is telling you that it needs to eat.

The pot roast recipe is taken from The Irish Beef Book (Gill & Macmillan, €28.99), which I wrote with butcher supreme, Pat Whelan. It's a very forgiving dish that takes very little time to prepare and scant attention while it's cooking. It's also a hearty and economical family meal that will be much appreciated on a miserable winter evening or a rainy Sunday.

Root vegetables are at their best at the moment, and we are all used to eating plenty of carrots and parsnips in the winter months. But you can play around with the vegetables in the recipe and use a combination of swede, butternut squash and celeriac if you prefer. Leftovers will reheat perfectly for a second meal.

You can serve the stew with mashed potato or rice. Perhaps try short grain brown rice as an alternative to white rice? You'll find it in health food stores if your supermarket doesn't stock it and its nutty, sweet flavour is much more interesting than boring old white long grain. Being a wholegrain, it's better for you too - and you can use any leftovers mixed with nuts, herbs, vegetables or leftover meat and chicken to make a lunchbox salad the next day.

The Korean chicken stew has a fiery kick and, although it requires a couple of ingredients that will take a bit of tracking down, is well worth the effort. Maybe order the spice paste and chilli powder with a friend and split the cost - you'll have plenty to last you for a while.

The smoked haddock and potato dish may be familiar to you, but it's worth revisiting some traditional favourites to appreciate just why they have stood the test of time. Do try and find undyed smoked fish, it's got much better flavour than the lurid orange stuff.

The shopping list assumes that you have basic ingredients such as olive oil, vegetable oil, flour, butter, milk, salt and pepper already in the kitchen cupboard (and a friendly neighbour who'll give you a bay leaf!) but do check in case you already have some of the others too.

Traditional Pot Roast of Housekeepers' Cut with Winter Vegetables
Traditional stew.

Serves 6-8

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or Irish rapeseed oil

2kg housekeepers' cut

4 small whole onions or shallots, peeled

500g carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks

500g parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 heads of garlic

A few sprigs each of parsley and thyme

250ml beef or chicken stock

Sea salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 150oC/Fan 130oC/Gas Mark 2. Heat the oil in a heavy casserole dish and brown the meat on all sides. Add the vegetables, garlic, herbs and stock. Season and cover with foil and a tight-fitting lid.

Place in the oven and cook for 2½-3 hours or until tender. Slice the meat and serve with the vegetables and cooking juices. Good with mashed potato or rice.

Warming Chicken and Potato Stew

Chicken and potato stew.

Serves 4

1 tsp vegetable oil

800g chicken thighs and drumsticks

2 ½ tbsps. gochujang chilli paste

3 tbsps gochugaru red pepper powder

2 ½ tbsp. soy sauce

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tbsp honey

3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped

1 tbsp roasted sesame seed oil

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

This Korean recipe comes from Our Korean Kitchen (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, €37.50) by Irish chef and food writer, Jordan Bourke, and his Korean wife, Rejina Pyo.

The authors warn that the spice level may be too hot for some, so start with less. You'll find the chilli paste and powder online or in Asian supermarkets.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large heavy-based pan over a high heat. When hot, add the chicken and brown on all sides for 4-5 minutes.

Carefully pour off any excess oil. In a bowl, combine the gochujang paste, gochujaru powder, soy sauce, garlic and honey. Add this to the pan along with 400ml of water. Stir to combine and pop the lid on.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Add the potatoes, onions, carrot and most of the chillies. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the potatoes and carrot are tender.

Stir in the sesame see oil and cook for a further minute. Serve in bowls with the remaining chilli, spring onions and toasted sesame seed scattered over the top.

Smoked Haddock and Potato Soup

Haddock soup

Serves 4

500g undyed smoked haddock, skin on

A bay leaf

A knob of butter

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 leek, washed and cut into chunks

Freshly ground black pepper

2 medium potatoes, unpeeled, cut into chunks

500ml whole milk

1 bunch chives, finely chopped

Put the fish into a wide pan large enough to hold it comfortably, add the bay leaf and just cover with water. Place on a medium heat and bring to the boil, turn off the heat, remove the fish from the pan and leave aside to cool.

Retain the cooking liquid. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium/low heat, add the onion and leek, cover and sweat for about 10 minutes until soft, taking care not to brown. Season with black pepper.

Add the potato to the pan and stir to coat with the butter. Add the liquid in which the fish was cooked, and the bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cook until the potato is tender. Meanwhile, remove the skin and any bones from the fish and break into large flakes.

Use a slotted spoon to remove about half of the potatoes and vegetables from the pan, and discard the bay leaf. Add the milk and about half the haddock to the pan, and mash or blitz until smooth-ish.

Reheat and season to taste. To serve, divide the potato, leek and haddock mixture between four bowls and top with the soupy liquid. Scatter the chives over the top.

Irish Independent

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