© David Loftus
Andy the gasman's stew
You might have heard me talking about my mate Andy the Gasman – he’s the one who didn’t ever want to use his oven as he thought it might devalue the price of his house, so he left it in its plastic wrapper! Five years on and nothing’s changed, but I wanted to get him cooking, so this is something I invented for him to try out. It’s so easy to make because all it involves is throwing a few things into the pot and leaving it in the oven for a while. In Andy’s case, he’ll go to a football match while it’s cooking so it’s ready as soon as he gets home. You can serve it as a stew or in tortillas with crunchy salad and guacamole. The other great thing about it is that you can bulk it out with different types of roughly chopped root veg, or butternut squash, or even with different types of beans (try cannellini, flageolet or lima beans), and if you want a bit of heat, feel free to add a couple of crumbled dried chillies. PS: Andy is a strapping lad currently looking for a wife if any of you can help – just look out for him out on the town in Saffron Walden at the weekend!
First of all, you need to preheat your oven, but the temperature will depend on how long you want to cook the stew for. If you want it ready in 3 hours, preheat it to 350ºF, but if you want to cook it for 6 hours, then you need the oven on at 275ºF.
Put a large casserole-type pan on the stove on a high heat and add a couple of good lugs of olive oil. Let this heat up, then add your potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, cumin, paprika, and orange zest and juice, and stir together. Cook for 1 minute, then mix around again before adding the meat, the chickpeas and the tomatoes. Season lightly with salt and pepper and pour over enough water to cover everything. Bring to the boil and put into the oven. Serve the stew in bowls with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro leaves.
• olive oil
• 1¹⁄₂lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
• 2 red onions, peeled and roughly
• 2 carrots, peeled and roughly
• 2 sticks of celery, trimmed and
• roughly chopped
• 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary,
• 1 level teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 heaped tablespoon smoked paprika
• zest and juice of 1 orange
• 1³⁄₄lb stewing steak, lamb or pork, cubed
• 1 14oz jar or can of good-quality
cooked chickpeas, drained
• 1 14oz can of good-quality plum
• sea salt and freshly ground
• 1 tub of fresh plain yogurt
• a handful of fresh cilantro, leaves