What is a more comforting food when it is chilly outside than a hearty casserole? There are many recipes but here is a selection of warm, filling recipes for the cold weather ahead; most of which are my favourites.
Casseroles are economical dishes as the long, slow cooking means cheaper cuts of meat are perfect to use. Added winter vegetables bring not only the flavour but important nutrients plus serve with seasonal vegetables and/or boiled potatoes for even more.
Ireland's national dish is Irish stew; a recipe which traditionally was always made with mutton, but more often nowadays, is made with lamb. Controversy reigns over whether vegetables other than potatoes should be added; onions, leeks and carrots not only bring the extra flavor but also nutrition to the stew. The choice is yours.
No dish has ever seemed so perfect for a winter's day than Beef Stew and Dumplings. It has kept Britain and Ireland on its feet during hard times and through winter storms and always brings a smile to my family when I serve it for dinner. Dumplings are made with suet and for this dish, there is really no alternative. So if you can't find suet (easy in the UK), then just omit the dumplings.
Long, slow, braised Lamb Shanks are perfect comfort food, so welcome on a chilly autumn or cold winters' day. There are many recipes, but this is one of my favourites. The Lamb Shank is cooked very slowly in a red wine - may I emphasise, a good wine, never cook with wine you wouldn't drink. The wine will tenderise the meat and cooked, will quite literally fall from the bone.
Lancashire Hotpot is probably the most famous dish to come from the county of Lancashire in North West England. As you can see in this t recipe, it is very simple and straightforward to make. This is a long, slow cooked recipe, yet unlike many stews; it is still quite light and suitable for eating year round (save perhaps on a really hot summers' day).
This Rabbit with Bacon and Turnips Recipe comes courtesy of Nigel Slater, the renowned British food writer, from his book Tender.
Nigel explains, " Whereas most meats give us the choice of cooking on the bone or not, wild rabbit is one that really needs its bones if it is not to be dry. It is not the meatiest of choices, so you need to be generous with quantities here. Rabbit bones are small, and it's important to watch out for the more fiddly ones. The turnips in this provide all the carbs you need to soak up the sauce. It just needs some sprouting purple broccoli on the side.
Beef, leeks and mushrooms, what a great combination for a warm and comforting winter stew. For this recipe, I use a chunk of tender rump steak, but you can use any beef from the rump to stewing beef. This is a long, slow-cooked recipe, so is well suited to less tender cuts.
Tomato and White Bean Casserole is a hearty, filling, vegetable casserole, perfect for chilly days. The casserole is packed with beans, and with the addition of tomatoes is a very healthy dish as a main course or as an accompaniment to other dishes.
Tomato and White Bean Casseroles make a wonderful side dish for roast and braised meats.
This recipe uses canned beans, but you can also use frozen as long as they have been precooked before freezing.
Beef in Red Wine by any other name is a Boeuf Bourguignon, the delicious Burgundy dish. This is a hearty dish and perfect on a winter's day but is seriously good any other time (save of course on a really hot summers' day).
The meat for this dish is beef. The best beef for this is one of the cheaper, slightly tougher cuts, blade, shin, or less usual cuts such as ox cheek.
Like any slow-cooked meat dish, this is best made at least a day in advance; this helps the flavours develop. This resting time is also good for cooling the dish and then removing any excess fat which may solidify, thus making it a healthier dish.