Food has that wonderfully unique gift of being able to bring comfort while mending and transforming your mood. Whether it’s cheese on toast after a hard shift or an ice cream when you fall off your bike as a kid (or adult for that matter), food is here to help.
When its colder outside, as it is now, we naturally crave more energising foods to line our bellies and lift our spirits – a plate of mince and tatties, bowl of soup or apple crumble and custard all work perfectly! Us Scots just know instinctively what it takes to get through the winter. For me, one meal that always hits the spot more than any other is a good old stew.
I grew up on stew and tatties; my mum always seemed to have a stew in the oven. She would prepare the meal in the morning before setting off to work so that all day long the meat would be simmering away in a slow oven. It would be so tender and flavoursome by the time it was served and the best part was the smell that met you when you came in from the cold after school.
I love the cuts of meat that need to be slowly cooked for stews and casseroles; They’re far more interesting and because they’re usually from the working parts of the animal, such as the shoulder, they naturally have more flavour and character.
I’d honestly take the cheap and cheerful beef cheeks in a stew over a fillet steak any day of the week! Not only do you get more ‘meat for your buck’ but these fattier cuts are far more nutritious and loaded with great fatty and amino acids, proteins and collagen, all of which help maintain your joints through winter and keep you looking young and energised!
Don’t feel you need to stick to beef for a stew; try lamb, mutton, pork, venison or even goat. And for those of you who aren’t meat fans try cod cheeks, salmon belly or shellfish. Amazing! Don’t be afraid to ask advice from your butcher or fishmonger as they’ll be delighted to offer you lesser used cuts and will probably tell you all the secrets they know for getting the best flavour out of them.
So, this winter, make stew your go to meal and keep a smile on your face even in the coldest of days.
ENJOY! G X
TOP TIP: Cooking a stew is pretty straight forward, you can pop the meat, stock and vegetables straight in together and braise away. However, if you wish a more flavoursome stew it’s always best to take your time and brown the meat in small batches in your pan on the stove, even better if you do the same with the onions and carrots. This way you can get that lovely caramelised sweet flavour into your stew and a really inviting rich colour and aroma.
Thanks to Gill Murray and #SmallCityRecipes for use of their photographs