Sunday, 23 November 2008

Meat and Stew Veg

WITH bleak grey skies and the prospect of snow hanging in the air, a supper of mum's homemade beef stew proved just the tonic.
As I contentedly mopped up the melting meat and thick, rich gravy, which had been slow-cooked with carrots, onions, parsnips and pearl barley, it got me thinking that this was exactly the kind of nutritious recipe Jamie Oliver should have been teaching those Rotherham folk on his Ministry of Food.
My mum's a good cook, but by her own admission, this had been the simplest of dishes to prepare, and cheap to boot. It was a one-pot dish, and the gentle cooking assured that the meat was cooked properly and bags of flavour extracted without the need to add a bucket of salt.
It was easy to cook in quantities vast enough for an army-sized family and perfect to freeze and then reheat.
In my mind there is nothing more satisfying than creating something so delicious from the most basic of ingredients.
So why did Jamie think that a bunch of working class folk would be motivated to get back into the kitchen armed with recipes such as stuffed chicken wrapped in prosciutto ham? Delicious, I am sure, but not exactly cheap or easy to prepare for hoards of hungry mouths.
This recipe was one of a handful he tried to 'pass on' which was not only fairly expensive (particularly when Jamie insists on organic, free-range chicken breasts) but assumed a level of culinary expertise. For someone not confident enough to turn on a stove cooking a chicken breast properly could prove lethal.
Instead he should have started off with one pot meals the whole family can enjoy with minimum effort or expense.
I am all for getting people back into the kitchen and away from convenience foods but it has to be simple and affordable.
What do you think? What is your favourite one-pot dish and how do you make it? I've just spotted a cracker on the BBC Good Food website for Chorizo and Squash stew. Perfect winter fodder!

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