Every time I turn the t.v. on, there seems to be a programme on one or the other channel that stars the hirsute lads, with their quirky humour and yummy recipes. They're almost as omnipresent as Jamie Oliver used to be.
So, the other day, there I was doing a bit of channel-surfing when I spot the Bikers in the company of a marrow. Being a bit partial to a chunk of marrow or two, I stopped and was treated to their rendition of a Stuffed Marrow.
Now I've looked extensively online for this recipe and I'm darned if I can find it. For sure I can find various Hairy Bikers recipes for stuffed marrow, but not the one I saw them create. If anyone knows where to find the recipe I'm after, let me know where and I'll link to it. (Thanks to "Anonymous", who directed me here : http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/italian-style_stuffed_63676).
Anyway, all this got me to thinking about the stuffed marrows I used to make when we were living in Chatham and things were particularly hard. You could always guarantee a good feed for very little cash, with one of those.
With the boys' recipe in mind, I decided to have a little go down memory lane and update my version.
|Ooooh, hand me a knife and fork, quick!|
I wanted to use mushrooms in the stuffing, but am aware of son & heir's likes and dislikes - which very definitely include the texture of mushroom. Now, because I'd be using minced beef, I figured that if I chopped the mushroom finely enough (very much how you would for a mushroom duxelle), then the chances were that he wouldn't detect it. Which he didn't.
I was impressed by the Hairy Bikers' idea of making the cheese coating in the form of a thick cheese sauce, rather than just grated cheese sprinkled over which then bakes to an impermeable crust. Making the roux-based sauce is simplicity itself and son & heir was very happy to do his part in the washing up of the cheese sauce saucepan, although that didn't go as far as involving washing up liquid, rather more of some serious work with a finger and his tongue. Ah well. If he hadn't have, I would have.
|Garlic mushroom couscous - a very acceptable accompaniment|
We each wound up with two-thirds of each half of marrow on our plate, which was a gargantuan portion and I was glad I hadn't made more vegetables to go with it. I figured that what with the carrot and celery in the stuffing mix, plus the marrow itself, we'd probably got sufficient vegetable matter to satisfy the veggie police, should they have decided to show.
All three of us left a small amount of marrow, as there's only so much marrow one can send stomach-wards at one time. The cheese sauce worked beautifully and I felt that the stuffing followed along particularly British lines in its flavours. Hubby could have done with it being a little more highly flavoured and less "juicy". However, I do feel that the "juiciness" originated from the marrow itself, rather than the stuffing - which was virtually dry by the time it went into the marrow.
We were each happy with the meal in varying degrees. Son & heir would have liked less marrow, hubby would have liked more flavour, I would have liked more of the "overflow" (the bits that landed up on the roasting tin). As an occasional dish - i.e. I wouldn't want to make it regularly - it was a lovely blast from the past.
STUFFED MARROW (feeds 3-4)
1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
500g beef mince
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 celery stick, de-strung and diced finely
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced finely
3 chestnut mushrooms, chopped finely
1 beef oxo cube, made up with 200ml hot water
1 tsp bovril
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp horseradish sauce
half a tsp of dried sage
1 tsp English mustard powder (or half a tsp ready-made mustard)
a good shake or two of Worcestershire sauce.
For the cheese sauce :
2 tbsp plain flour
1 pint milk
strong cheddar, grated, to taste
half a tsp English mustard powder.
1. Pre-heat your oven to 180deg F/350deg C/Gas 4. Be aware of how long your oven takes to heat up and don't turn it on before you need to - saves energy!
2. Take the marrow and cut it equally down its long length into two halves.
3. Shave off a slice from the underside, so that the marrow will sit without rocking.
4. Remove the pips by scraping them out with a spoon, and discard.
5. Heat a frying pan and dry-fry the mince until brown, just beginning to caramelise, and the fat has rendered out. Tip the pan on one side and spoon out the fat to give to the dog, or the birds, or just plain old discard.
6. Remove and reserve the mince, to keep warm.
7. Add the oil, if necessary, and the onion. Cook on a medium heat for around 5-10 minutes or until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
8. Add the celery and carrot and cook until heated through, then add the mushroom and stir through.
9. Replace the mince back into the pan and stir through.
10. Add all the remaining ingredients then stir through and leave to cook for some 10 minutes or so, or until the "gravy" has reduced down to almost nothing.
11. Taste to check the seasoning and correct if necessary with a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
11. Leave to one side, whilst you make the cheese sauce.
12. In a small pan, melt the butter, then add the flour and stir through. Cook over a gentle heat for a minute or two.
13. Add a small amount of the milk and stir furiously, repeating as necessary until you have as thick a sauce as you can bear. Remember, it's going to have to sit on top of the stuffed marrow and not run everywhere! Add the cheese and stir gently until it has melted.
14. Next, assemble the dish.
15. Place the marrow pieces into a large roasting dish that will allow plenty of room around them - and leave a gap in between the two halves.
16. Fill the marrow pieces with the mince mixture - if your diners aren't too keen on marrow, you can always scrape a little bit more away, thus leaving more room for the mince mixture.
17. Spoon the cheese sauce over the top of each marrow half and place into the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbling. Check the marrow is cooked by inserting a vegetable knife into the thickest part. If it needs a bit longer in the oven, you can always form a "hat" out of silver foil to go over the top and stop the cheese sauce from burning. Don't be tempted to serve until the marrow is completely cooked, as uncooked marrow is yuk!
Serve with mashed potato or your favourite couscous dish.