The Owl and the Pussycat went to Sea….

… a beautiful pea green boat.
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.

Well, they’d have had a rare old time if they happened upon a floating gin palace with a cash bar but they probably wouldn’t have eaten very well once the honey was gone. Thankfully the clever pussycat also had with him a Sea Pie. Despite the name Sea Pie has very little to do with fish. It’s a great, warming and filling dish designed to keep fishermen going when they’re out at sea. Mr Stovies’ granny was a fine North Eastern fishwife and our version is an ode to her epic meaty dish.

This recipe will serve 6-8 people and is great for a relaxed late Sunday lunch. We would say on a winter’s day but really with a traditional Scottish summer any day will do!

For the meat stew:
750g Oxtail
500g Boiling beef (just ask the butcher, it’s a funny cut)
2 Onions, cut into large slices
3 Large carrots, in 1 inch chunks
1/4 Medium turnip, in 1 inch chunks
1tbsp Flour, heaped
750ml Water
1 or 2 Bay leaves
A good pinch of white pepper

Put all of the ingredients except the flour into a large, oven proof, lidded pan. Bring up to simmering point on the stove then turn the heat down low, cover with the lid and cook for a long time. A 4 hours plus long time, all day if you can. Stir occasionally. When the meat is falling away from the bones, fish the chunks out, pull the meat away from the bone with a fork and return to the pan. Discard the bones and the bay leaves. Mix a little cooking juice with the flour to make a lazy roux, thin it down with some more cooking liquor and stir through to thicken the stew.

For the dumplings:
200g Self raising flour
75g Suet
1tsp Dried thyme
Salt & pepper
Water to mix

Mix the dry ingredients together, add enough water to make a sticky dough then form into dumplings either by getting your hands dirty and rolling golf ball sized balls between your palms or get a little cheffy and use two spoons to make quenelles. Make sure you have one dumpling per person, although a couple of extras are a good idea too!

Asses the stew, the dumplings will suck up lots of water so you may need to add some more to compensate. Ideally there will be about 1/2 a cm of stew juice above the body of the meat. Place the dumplings evenly on top of the stew, cover with the lid and cook on a medium to low heat for half an hour.

Serve with crusty bread, a good red wine* and good chat.

*or a craft brewed ale, Harviestoun make some beautiful beers…..


Beans, beans, good for the heart…

You have probably realised by now that here at Stovies’ Towers we like to eat meat. However, many of our recipes can be adapted to suit a veggie, or even a vegan. If you’re that way inclined.

This risotto is one of those dishes, leave the pancetta out and you have a filling vegetarian version. Alternatively use the meat-free version as a side dish for grilled fish or chicken. The quantities below will feed 4 as a main course on it’s own or 6 as a side.

Butter Bean and Pancetta Risotto

250g Risotto rice
1 Can of butter beans, drained and rinsed
130g Pancetta cubes (for some reason pancetta always comes in wee packs of two, use both and it’ll be dandy)
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
A handful of chopped flat parsley
1 tsp dried Tarragon
2tbsp Cold pressed rapeseed oil or butter.
200ml White wine
500ml Hot vegetable stock + 500ml hot water (or 1l hot water + 1 stock cube)

In a large, flat bottomed saucepan fry the pancetta in the oil, when it is slightly coloured add the onion and cook until soft. Add the rice and stir well so that each grain is coated in oil and turn the heat to medium-low. Pour in the wine and stir continuously until almost absorbed.

Add the stock a ladle at a time stirring and allowing each to be absorbed before adding another. When you have added half of the stock pop the dried tarragon into the pan, when you have about two ladles to go, throw in the butter beans. Keep adding and keep stirring until the liquid has all been absorbed and the rice is glossy.

To finish grate in lots of parmesan and stir through the parsley. Eat straight away.

Oops, I’ve sprung a leek!

For the filling:
300g Chicken breast, cut into chunks
3 Rashers bacon, cut into small pieces (smoked or unsmoked you decide)
1 Leek, sliced
A knob of butter
50ml Martini
1/2 Chicken stock cube
1/2 tsp English mustard
2 tsp Flour
150ml Water

For the pastry:
175g Plain Flour
75g Butter, chilled and cubed
1 Large egg
A little milk

What more could you ask for from a pie? Warming, hearty and homely this chicken, bacon and leek pie delivers a great comfort food fix. The quantities here make a medium sized pie for two or two individual ones, just multiply for a bigger pie.

In a large frying pan melt the butter and soften the leeks a little, transfer into your pie dish. Slowly fry the bacon until crispy then add to the leeks. Lightly brown the chicken but don’t cook all the way through, dust the with the flour (prevents lumpy gravy-sauce) then add the Martini and stir through. Lift the meat out and sling into the pie dish with the rest of the filling. Add the mustard, stock cube and water to the cooking liquor and reduce by half, then pour into the pie dish.

In a large bowl rub the butter into the flour until you get a breadcrumby texture. Beat the egg and add in, binding together with a fork. It’ll take a bit of elbow grease to bring the pastry together but it is worth it, this pie crust is deliciously crunchy and light. Pop the finished pastry in the fridge for at least half an hour before rolling out and topping the pie with remembering to poke a small hole in the top to let the steam out. Brush with milk then bake at gas 5 for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the filling is piping hot.