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Two succulent stews for winter evening eats

This week’s recipes are the perfect option for chilled weekend nights in with family and friends and, even better, both recipes are great for using up any packets and tins you have lurking at the back of the cupboard.

It can be a struggle to use up all the stuff hiding away in the kitchen, but getting a great recipe with grains, pulses and herbs is a great way to start. Also, if you are good at making a proficient base, you can always use up any leftover meats from the chicken, or pork in order to make a second dinner.

Ham hock bean and tomato stew (serves four)


2 ham hocks approx. 800g

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, chopped

2 celery sticks, trimmed and chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed and rough chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tsp black peppers whole

200g haricot beans, dried is best

1 carrot, halved

1 onion, halved

1 bouquet garni (thyme, rosemary, bay leaf)

For the stew:

175g onion, chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, crushed and diced

1 can chopped, tomatoes

1 sprig rosemary destalked, chopped

sea salt

black pepper

1 bunch flat leaf parsley, destalked and chopped

Start off by cooking the ham hocks as these will need to be cooked for up to two hours so that they become moist and tender. Place the ham hocks in a casserole dish, with the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf and pepper. Cover with water, bring to the boil and then simmer for at least two hours. If not tender and falling off the bone, leave to cook for another 30 minutes and remove from heat, let rest and then shred the ham.

For the beans, it is always best to soak overnight in cold water. I recommend doing this with barley when making soup.

Once soaked strain through and place in a saucepan and cover with fresh water and add in the bouqet garni, carrot and onion. Place on the heat to simmer, with a lid and cook until soft but not mushy, this may take up to 40 minutes.

In a large saucepan, add in the olive oil and cook the chopped onion until translucent, then add in the garlic again until translucent– It is best to stay by the pan at this stage.

Add in the tomatoes and cook for five minutes and then add in the beans and the herbs and cook out for a further five minutes. Lastly add in the ham hock and season to taste.

You want the consistency to be thick and not too juicy, but this recipe will also make a great soup. To make it soup like consistency add in another litre of chicken or vegetable stock.

Mussels, tomato and chickpeas (serves four)

This is a much fresher stew than the ham hock.

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, fine chop

2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped

1 tbsp harissa paste

1 tsp smoked paprika

400g chopped tomatoes

400g chickpeas (soak the night before in water and rinse off)

sea salt

black pepper

1kg mussels, cleaned

1 bunch basil leaves, de–stalked and chopped

Start by heating the olive oil in a large casserole dish on a medium heat. Add in the garlic and onion and cook until translucent, stirring from time to time.

Add in the paste and paprika, soaked chickpeas and 125ml water. Season with salt and pepper and increase the heat and bring to the boil. Once bubbling, reduce the heat and add in the cleaned mussels. Place on the lid.

Cook for five minutes and remove from the heat, give the pan a good shake and leave for three minutes. Take the lid off and divide the ingredients between four bowls. Any mussels not opened discard. Garnish with chopped basil. Serve with a crusty baguette.

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