… well sorry about the lack of anything happening here on the blog over the past three weeks but it’s all gone completely manic at work in the run up to Christmas. We’ve not been back to the cottage for a fortnight and prior to that we had friends to stay and we got so swept away with the entertaining I forgot to post anything! So please forgive me… and just in case you miss me too much you can always find me with more regularity on instagram.
So it’s only taken until November 18th but the weather has finally turned to winter and what a night and day it has been. last night we drove back to the cottage from London and she we got out of the car we were greeted by an intense cold that quite literally took our breaths away… and whilst we were gasping for air we turned our heads to the heavens to the most intense celestial display of stars i’ve seen in quite a while! We always get a better star show being so remotely located but I promise you, last night was quite spectacular. A blanket of glitter across the roof of the sky, with not a cloud in sight, it stretched from horizon to horizon. If it had been warmer I think i’d still be staring at it now. It was just the tonic we needed after the stress of the big smoke and if all that weren’t enough to make you feel all humble inside, our adorable neighbour Tracey had very kindly lit a fire for us so that the cottage was gloriously toasty and warm when we got inside. Now what could say ‘welcome home’ more than that?… perhaps a nice stew to share…
wild mushroom and sausage hot pot
so as you can clearly see this is no ordinary hot pot with the traditional slices of potato layered on top of a beef stew… firstly i’ve used cubes of potato instead of slices. I love the chunkiness of the finished dish and the fluffy, roasty potatoes reminds me of chips and gravy, a favourite from university days, which is not a bad thing at all. Then the hot pot itself has all the usual seasonal suspects such as onion, carrot and celery along with swede, green beans and some left-over cavolo nero. I also found a couple of trays of wild mushrooms at our local market so these have gone in too. Of course i’ve also gone fully vegetarian by using some delicious Quorn sausages but any veggie or non veggie sausage will work well here, I just think it’s nice to try and ease back on too much meat in the weeks running up to Christmas and this is such a brilliant meat-free meal with its rich wine gravy and chunky potatoes you really won’t miss the meat.
- 200g wild mushrooms – roughly chopped (I used a mix of mini portobello’s, oyster, ceps and button mushrooms)
- 3 cloves garlic – crushed
- 1 large white onion – roughly chopped
- 3 sticks of celery – roughly chopped
- 6 vegetarian sausages – thickly sliced (I used the Quorn ones as they’re nice and firm)
- 2 medium carrots – roughly chopped
- a handful green beans – roughly chopped
- a handful of cavolo nero or cabbage – chopped
- 1 glass white wine
- 1 litre vegetable stock with 2 added teaspoons Bisto Caramelised Onion gravy powder
- 4 or 5 large potatoes – cut into chunky cubes
- plenty of butter, olive oil, salt and pepper and fresh herbs of your choice
to keep this as a proper ‘one-pot-meal’ i’ve used one large shallow casserole dish with a lid but any casserole dish will work
place the pan on a gentle heat and melt a large nob of butter with a generous glug of olive oil, add the mushrooms, stir and place the lid on for 6 mins until the mushrooms have softened. Remove the lid, season well with salt and plenty of black pepper, then stir in the garlic and some fresh rosemary and continue heat gently until the mushrooms begin to turn a golden brown – remove from the pan and set aside
add some more butter and olive oil to the same pan and add the onions and celery and saute gently until beginning to soften, then add the sausages and saute well to give them some colour, then stir in the carrots and swede, followed by the green beans and cabbage and finally the mushrooms. Pour in the wine followed by the stock, place the lid on and turn down the heat to it’s very lowest and let it gently plop away for an hour
meanwhile, par-boil the potatoes in plenty of water for roughly 5 mins until they’re just soft, then dowse liberally in olive oil and season well, place a lid on and shimmy them up, bashing the potatoes well
pre-heat the oven to 160C
once the stew has had roughly an hour, take the lid off and gently scatter the potatoes on top, drizzle more oil on top and place in the oven for a further hour
eat and of course, enjoy!
Mark Willis says
Dom, I thought for a minute that you had taken up mushroom-foraging too (like me).
Dominic Franks says
I’d love to do that!
Galina V says
Love the description of the starry night, very poetic. The hot pot with wild mushrooms is perfect for this cold weather.
Dominic Franks says
thanks, I was inspired by the night sky xx