Kimchi jigae noodle stew

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Jigae may be something that is brand new in your culinary vocabulary or, indeed, you may be well versed with it; regardless it is certainly a meal that you need to become more familiar with as it is simple, fast and a definite winter warmer. Jigae, to all intents and purposes, is a Korean stew that uses kimchi as the base along with pork and/ or tofu typically. To make even heartier I have added some instant ramen noodles but feel free to leave this out if you prefer.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
3 slices of pork belly
1 tbsp rice wine
Pinch of white sugar
200g kimchi
200g firm tofu- patted dry and cut into bite sized pieces
Shiitake mushrooms- cleaned and sliced
500ml vegetable stock
1 tsp gochugaru
1 tbsp. gochujang
1 tbsp dark soy
Baby pak choi- shredded
Spring onions- sliced
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
200g instant ramen noodles

1.Start a little ahead of time in order to prepare the pork. Simple cut the pork belly into bite sized pieces and marinade in the rice wine; season well with pepper and set aside for half an hour.

2. When the pork’s time is up, choose a heavy based, large pan that will be big enough to fit everything in. Add a glug of unflavoured oil and heat to medium; add the pork belly bites and cook until turning golden and starting to caramelise.

3. Add the kimchi and tofu into the pan with the pork and carefully combine; continue to cook for a couple of minutes along with the mushrooms. Up next goes all the remaining ingredients other than the spring onion and pak choi. Bring the stock to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes; taste and adjust the seasoning to taste by adding more gochujang, soy and/ or sesame oil. For the last two minutes of cooking, sprinkle in the onion and pak choi and add the instant ramen noodles; it’s ready when the onion and pak choi is tender. Serve immediately.

Kimchi jigae noodle stew- a new dish to add to your repertoire and perfect after festive excess!

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Venison sausage, cavolo nero and bean casserole

This time each year I usually come across a vegetable that then becomes a borderline food obsession and this year it’s cavolo nero’s turn. Cavolo nero, also known as black cabbage or Italian kale, is perfect for pepping up soups, stews and pastas. I have kept this recipe as simple as possible so each constituent ingredient can be tasted and savoured. I used venison sausages for this recipe as the rich flavour goes well with the irony flavour of the cavolo nero and the creamy cannellini beans. A lot of casseroles and stews use red wine in the base but I have gone for a dark ale to create depth in place of wine so give it a try!

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Ingredients- serves 3
Vegetable oil
6 good quality venison sausages
1 large red onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely sliced or crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
250ml dark ale or porter
400g tinned cannellini beans
400ml hot beef stock
400ml passata
Handful of fresh thyme
1 head of cavolo nero- washed and chopped

1. Start by preheating the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Take a large casserole pan and add a glug of oil; heat to medium and brown off the sausages. Turn them as you go to ensure they are uniformly golden; remove from the pan when they are ready, cut into thirds or quarters and set aside.

2. Using the same pan, fry the onion and garlic together for a few minutes until they soften but don’t colour. I add salt at this point to help draw the moisture from the onions. If you have found that the sausages have given quite a bit of fat then do drain some of this away before adding the onions. Next up goes the tomato puree which should be stirred through the onion and garlic to give a coating; cook for a minute or two before adding the ale. Reduce the volume of the ale by half.

3. Add the beans to the pan and combine well with the onion, garlic and ale mix before adding the stock and passata. Drop in the thyme and add the sausage and cavolo nero; bring to a gentle boil before popping in the oven for 60-75 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if the cavolo nero looks like a lot- it will cook down as the casserole is in the oven. Serve with a creamy mound of mashed potato or hunks of bread and enjoy.

Venison sausage, cavolo nero and bean casserole- a satisfying dinner for those dark, chilly nights!

Butter bean, cod and chorizo stew

If you think a stew needs to be meat based then think on! Cod loin is robust and meaty in its own right and will convert even the biggest carnivore!

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Ingredients- serves 2- 3
1 tin of butter beans- drained and rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
200g chorizo- sliced
1 onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped
2 jarred roasted red peppers- sliced
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
Capful of red wine vinegar
Fresh thyme sprigs
Handful of shredded baby spinach
2 large cod loins

1. Take a large pan and heat the oil over a medium heat. Add in the chorizo and fry until golden and fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside. Next up goes in the onion, garlic and chilli for a couple of minutes until softening. I then add the paprika and red pepper and cook for a further minute making sure it’s well mixed in.

2. The butter beans need to in next and stir gently so they get coated with the onion. Add the tomatoes, stock, chorizo, vinegar and thyme and bring to the boil. Lower to a simmer, cover and cook until the sauce is thick and reduced. Just a few minutes before the stew is ready pop thespinach through the stew and add the cod loins into the pan to steam. You can leave the fish whole or cut it into chunks of you prefer. Cod loin is best for this as it will stay whole.

3. Dig the thyme sprigs out of the pan and check the seasoning. Chorizo is quite salty so you may find you don’t need to do too much. Serve in deep bowls with hunks of warm bread on the side.

Venison sausage and lentil stew

Who doesn’t love a hearty sausage stew? This marries the delicate but rich game flavour of venison with earthy lentils which make for a simple dinner. If you’re not sure about game then this is a great way to start eating it.  I use white wine to lighten the stew however red wine would also work if you prefer a richer finish.

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Ingredients: Serves 4
1 tbsp vegetable oil
8 venison sausages
1 small onion or shallot- finely chopped
1 garlic clove- crushed
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 carrot- finely chopped
2 celery sticks- finely chopped
100g cubed pancetta (optional)
120ml white wine
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
600ml vegetable stock
200g green or puy lentils
Sprig of thyme
Handful chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt and pepper to season

1. Take a heavy bottomed casserole pot and heat the oil over a medium/ high heat and cook the sausages until golden all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Use some of the fat from the sausages to cook the onion and garlic until softened. Next up goes the tomato puree which needs to be cooked out for a couple of minutes. Pop in the carrot, celery and pancetta and cook for a further couple of minutes until the vegetables are softened and the pancetta starts to crisp up.

3. Add in the white wine and reduce by half before adding the stock, tomatoes, thyme and seasoning. The lentils then need to be added along with the venison sausages and bring to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the lentils and until tender; if needed you can to up with a little extra stock as you go. Finish with the parsley and check the seasoning before serving with crusty bread.

Venison sausage and green lentil stew- a perfect introduction to game!

Autumnal sausage and bean stew

There’s a distinctive chill in the air so this recipe is a perfect autumnal warmer. I have used a good quality beef sausage as a bit of a change but you could easily swap it for pork sausages if you prefer. I have used beef sausages from Chiphall Farm who use Woodland Jersey herd meat so check them out http://www.chiphallfarmshop.co.uk to support excellent Hampshire producers.

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Ingredients- serves 4
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion finely sliced
2 garlic cloves crushed
3 celery sticks finely sliced
1 tbsp tomato puree
100ml red wine
300ml beef stock (vegetable stock if using pork sausages)
400ml tinned tomatoes
400g tinned butter beans and 400g tinned cannellini beans drained and rinsed
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Pinch of caster sugar
Salt and pepper to season

1. Preheat the oven to 190c/ 170 fan and leave to warm up whilst you get started with the rest. Heat the oil in a heavy based casserole pan over a medium heat and brown the sausages until they are golden all over; this should take about 10 minutes to get a good colour on them. When they are ready, set them aside to keep warm.

2. I then add the onion to gently fry off in the residual sausage fat as this adds an extra layer of flavour. If you find that a lot of fat has come out of the sausages you can drain some of this off if you lilke. A higher quality sausage usually produces less fat so that’s worth remembering. When the onions are nearly ready, add the garlic and celery and cook for 1- 2 minutes.

3. Squeeze in a tablespoon of tomato puree and cook this off well for another couple of minutes. Add in the red wine and simmer this to reduce it by half to cook off the booze. If using pork sausages you may also like to try using white wine for a lighter flavour to balance the pork.

4. Add the stock, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, pinch of caster sugar and season well. Bring it back up to a gentle simmer for a few minutes before adding the beans and sausages to the pan. Cover the pan and cook in the oven for an hour. The stew will have thickened and a rich, comforting meal will be your reward. Serve in warmed bowls with some bread on the side to soak up the juice.

Autumnal sausage and bean stew- a perfect meal for the changing season!