At this time of the year, when the food on your tables needs to be just that little bit more comforting and warming. Is there any better way to keep yourself full and warm in these wintery months than a delightful pie or casserole?
We’ve complied a selection of just some of our favourite comfort foods which will be sure to keep you cosy and warm on a cold winter’s night.
Cottage Pie (Serves 10)
Possibly the ultimate comfort food! Cottage pie is an undeniable classic that is sure to become a family favourite.
3 tbsp olive oil
1¼kg beef mice
2 onions, finely chopped
3 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato purée
Large glass of red wine (optional)
850ml beef stock
4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
A few thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
For the mash
1.8kg potatoes, chopped
200g strong cheddar, grated
Freshly grated nutmeg
Prep time – 35mins
Cooking time – 1 hour, 50 minutes
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan and fry 1¼kg beef mince until browned – you may need to do this in batches. Set aside as it browns.
Put the other 2 tbsp olive oil into the pan, add 2 finely chopped onions, 3 chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery sticks and cook on a gentle heat until soft, about 20 mins.
Add 2 finely chopped garlic cloves, 3 tbsp plain flour and 1 tbsp tomato purée, increase the heat and cook for a few mins, then return the beef to the pan.
Pour over a large glass of red wine, if using, and boil to reduce it slightly before adding the 850ml beef stock, 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, a few thyme sprigs and 2 bay leaves.
Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 45 mins. By this time the gravy should be thick and coating the meat. Check after about 30 mins – if a lot of liquid remains, increase the heat slightly to reduce the gravy a little. Season well, then discard the bay leaves and thyme stalks.
Meanwhile, make the mash. In a large saucepan, cover the 1.8kg potatoes which you’ve peeled and chopped, in salted cold water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender.
Drain well, then allow to steam-dry for a few mins. Mash well with the 225ml milk, 25g butter, and three-quarters of the 200g strong cheddar cheese, then season with freshly grated nutmeg and some salt and pepper.
Spoon the meat into 2 ovenproof dishes. Pipe or spoon on the mash to cover. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese.
If eating straight away, heat oven to 220C / 200C fa/gas 7 and cook for 25-30 mins, or until the topping is golden.
If using a slow cooker, brown your mince in batches then tip into your slow cooker and stir in the vegetables, flour, purée, wine, stock, Worcestershire sauce and herbs with some seasoning. Cover and cook on High for 4-5 hours. Make the mash following the previous steps, and then oven cook in the same way to finish.
Beef & Vegetable Casserole (Serves 5)
A traditional braised beef stew with thick, rich gravy another classic for all the family.
2 celery sticks, thickly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 big carrots, halved lengthways then very chunkily sliced
5 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs, 1 whole and leave picked
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 beef stock cubes, crumbled
850g stewing beef (brisket or feather blade works nicely), cut into nice large chunks
Prep time – 15 mins
Cooking time – 3 hours – 3 hours 50 minutes
Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and put the kettle on.
Put 2 thickly sliced celery sticks, 1 chopped onion, 2 chunkily sliced carrots, 5 bay leaves and 1 whole thyme sprig in a flameproof casserole dish with 1 tbsp vegetable oil and 1 tbsp butter.
Soften for 10 mins, then stir in 2 tbsp plain flour until it doesn’t look dusty anymore, followed by 2 tbsp tomato purée, 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce and 2 crumbled beef stock cubes.
Gradually stir in 600ml hot water, then tip in 850g stewing beef and bring to a gentle simmer.
Cover and put in the over for 2hr 30 mins, then uncover and cook for 30 mins – 1hr more until the meat is really tender and the sauce is thickened.
Garnish with the picked leaves of the remaining thyme sprig.
Toad in the hole (Serves 4)
A great family sharing dish that everyone loves. Remember to serve with a big jug of hot gravy to pour over, to make it that bit extra special.
150g plain flour
3 tsp English mustard power
3 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
8 pork sausages
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Prep time – 15 mins
Cooking time – 45 mins
To make the batter, mix the flour and mustard powder in a bowl with a good pinch of salt. Gradually whisk in the eggs and milk until you have a smooth batter. Mix in the thyme.
Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Fry the sausages in the oil until golden brown. Put the sausages and any oil in the bottom of an overproof dish (you’ll need one where you can arrange the sausages evenly with enough space between them for the batter to rise).
Put the dish in the oven for 5 minutes to heat. Give the batter another whisk then pour into the hot dish. Put straight back in the oven and cook for 30 minutes until puffed, browned and crisp.
Parkin (16 squares)
We couldn’t talk about comfort foods without this Yorkshire favourite. A traditional ginger cake, flavoured with syrupy molasses, oatmeal and warm spices. The perfect afternoon treat.
200g butter, plus extra for greasing
1 large egg
4 tbsp milk
200g golden syrup
85g light soft brown sugar
100g medium oatmeal
250g self-raising flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
Prep time – 15 mins
Cooking time – 1 hour
Heat the oven to 160C/140 C fan/gas 3. Butter a deep 22cm square cake tin and line with baking parchment. Beat the egg and milk together with a fork.
Gently melt the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter together in a large pan until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat. Mix together the oatmeal, flour and ginger and stir into the syrup mixture, followed by the egg and milk.
Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 mins – 1 hr until the cake feels firm and a little crusty on top. Cool in the tin then wrap in more parchment and foil.
Yorkshire puddings (8 large or 24 small)
Speaking of Yorkshire favourites, we just couldn’t not include these on the list. Add them to any meal and it instantly improves it!
140g plain flour
Sunflower oil, for cooking
Prep time – 5 mins
Cooking time – 20 mins
Heat oven to 230C/210C fan/gas 8.
Drizzle a little sunflower oil evenly into two 4-hole Yorkshire pudding tins or two 12-hole non-stick muffin tins and place in the oven to heat through.
To make the batter, tip 140g plain flour into a bowl and beat in 4 eggs until smooth.
Gradually add 200ml milk and carry on beating until the mix is completely lump-free. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the batter into a jug, then remove the hot tins from the over. Carefully and evenly pir the batter into the holes.
Place the tins back in the oven and leave undisturbed for 20-25mins until the puddings have puffed up and browned.
Serve immediately or you can now cool them and freeze them for up to 1 month.
We hope you enjoyed our list, and they keep you nice and warm this, Winter. Also, if you are making one or more of these recipes, take a photo and show us your creations. And remember, if you don’t feel like cooking, or just want to treat yourself, our homemade food is always her waiting for you in our cosy village pub in Gargrave.
Thanks for reading,
The Masons Arms team