'Waste not, want not,' my mam always used to say to me, and despite screwing my face up each time she said it, it has been a lifelong lesson in frugality that has never been more relevant than it is now. The one positive thing to take from the current economic downturn is that it is making us all - hopefully - think a little more creatively in the home. So everything from using every scrap of food to budgeting your shopping is the hot topic in this crazy world we live in.
Making food for the whole family using cheaper cuts of meat is also a current much discussed topic, and in my opinion, the country is all the better for it. In days not so long ago when the country did not have the option of takeaways, ready meals and endless processed snacks, the nation cooked creatively using whatever they could get their hands on. How times have changed. But if there was ever a time to start being inspired to use a cheaper cut of meat, it is now.
The dinner plate isn't all about fillet steaks and racks of lamb; take a scrag end of lamb or perhaps a shin of beef and you can make all kinds of wonderful, tasty, filling and economic casseroles and soups to keep you all warm this winter without breaking the bank. Slow cooking is perhaps my favourite way of treating a piece of meat and the fattier, cheaper cuts of meat lend themselves to slow braising perfectly. What that process does is give you the tastiest, most sumptuous and tender meat you can wish for. So get the slow cookers out, spend a fiver on a cheap cut of meat and treat the family to a meal that laughs in the face of the credit crunch.
Beef, Ale and Chestnut Stew
1kg skirt of beef, cut into large chunks
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, chopped roughly
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 celery sticks, sliced
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 bottle of ale
250ml beef stock
2 handfuls of cooked chestnuts
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Salt and pepper
1 - Preheat the oven to 150C, GM2.
2 - In a large casserole dish, heat up the oil. Add the beef in batches and quickly cook until golden brown all over. Remove and set aside.
3 - Add the onion, carrots and celery and cook f0r 5-10 minutes until beginning to colour. Return the beef and any juices to the pot and sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until combined.
4 - Add the tomato puree and herbs and stir in. Pour in the ale and stock, bring to the boil, cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours, stirring on the hour.
5 - Add the chestnuts and mustard and cook for a further 20 minutes.
6 - Taste for seasoning. Serve with mashed potato and cabbage.