Comfort food recipes
Do you ever find yourself dreaming about warm, hearty meals served with crusty bread? We don't know about you, but the occasional homemade chicken pie is just not something we're properly trained to say no to. In fact, we'd really rather it stayed that way. So, for those days where nothing else will do, here are some of our favourite comfort food recipes...
There is a very good reason you often find these recipe gems in most modern day pubs; when it comes to comfort food, they're in it for the long haul. Delightfully nostalgic and tasty at the same time, pies and bakes are easy to make and usually very wallet-friendly.
Toad in the hole
Prep time: 5-10 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes Serves: 2-4
- 6 good-quality pork sausages – about 400g (14oz)
- 1 tbsp groundnut or other flavourless oil (if needed)
For the batter
- 75g (3oz) plain flour
- 1 large egg
- 75ml (3 fl oz) semi-skimmed milk
- Salt and freshly milled black pepper
- 55ml (2 fl oz) water
- Preheat oven to 220C/Gas 7.
- Begin by making the batter - sieve the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, break the egg into it and add some salt and pepper.
- Put milk and water in a jug and using an electric hand whisk on a slow speed, begin to whisk the egg into the flour.
- Then add the liquid gradually, stopping to scrape the flour into the mixture. Whisk until the batter is smooth.
- Arrange the sausages in a roasting tin (solid base - about 23x15cm or 9x6 inches) and put in the oven (low shelf) for 10 minutes.
- Place the roasting tin containing the sausages over direct heat turned to medium and, if the sausages haven't released much fat, add the tablespoon of oil. When the tin is really hot and the oil is beginning to shimmer quickly pour the batter in all around the sausages. Immediately return the roasting tin to the oven - this time on the highest shelf, and cook for 30 minutes.
- Serve with seasonal vegetables and gravy.
Chicken and bacon pie
Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 40 minutes Serves: 4
- 1 packet puff pastry
- 4 pieces of chicken fillet
- 4 rashers of smoked bacon
- 1 onion (finely sliced)
- 8 button mushrooms (sliced)
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 300ml chicken stock
- 100ml single cream
- Wrap the chicken in the bacon and lay in an pie dish.
- Add the onion, mushroom and parsley.
- Mix stock and cream and season to taste.
- Add enough liquid to cover the chicken.
- Cover with puff pastry.
- Cook in oven at 180C for 50 mins.
You could also try:
Stews and casseroles
Is there anything for comforting than a slow cooked casserole on a cold evening? Whether you serve it with crusty bread or mashed potato - or try the new favourite parsnip mash - these recipes will leave you feeling full, happy and maybe even pleasanty sleepy.
Slow cooked beef casserole
Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 6-8 hours Serves: 4
- 500g lean braising steak
- Large pack of fresh prepared stew vegetables
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 170g (6oz) fresh mushrooms (wiped and quartered)
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 1 pack passata
- 2 cloves fresh garlic (crushed)
- 125ml red wine (preferably full-bodied)
- 2 tsp grapeseed oil
- Bouquet garni
- 1/2 litre (1 pint) beef stock
- Season the cornflour, place in a large bowl and add the beef. Stir and coat.
- Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan, add crushed garlic and onion cook until soft, remove and add the veg.
- Remove and add the beef and brown (you may find you need a little extra oil at this point) then remove the pan from the heat and spoon the browned meat into the slow cooker or ovenproof casserole. Add the veg and put on the lid.
- Add the red wine to the pan and reduce.
- Stir with wooden spoon to get all of the flavour from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the stock and the passata.
- Add bouquet garni and simmer for a couple of minutes until piping hot, then add this mixture to the slow cooker/ovenproof dish, stir, then replace the lid.
- Turn on slow cooker to full leave for 6-8 hours or put the dish in the oven for roughly 4-5 hours on 150C. About 45 mins before the end of the cooking time add the mushrooms.
- Serve with creamy mash potatoes and vegetables of your choice.
Beef stew with horseradish dumplings
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Serves: 4
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 750g boneless top sirloin steak (cut into cubes)
- 3 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 300ml Burgundy red wine
- 300ml beef stock
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 bay leaves
- 150g baby carrots
- Salt and pepper
- 150g self-raising flour
- 75g shredded suet
- 2 tsp creamed horseradish
- 7 tbsp water
- Salt and pepper
- Make the dumplings; mix the flour, suet, horseradish and salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir in enough water to make a soft, but not sticky dough. With floured hands shape into eight balls.
- Add the dumplings to barely boiling water and cook for 20 minutes until the dumplings are light and fluffy.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the beef, a few cubes at a time, until all the pieces have been added. Fry over a high heat until just cooked through. Transfer to a bowl.
- Saute the carrots for 3 to 4 minutes and then add the onion and fry for 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and flour then gradually mix in the wine and stock. Add the tomato puree and bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then add back the meat from the bowl.
- Add the dumplings to the frying pan leave for 5 minutes and then serve remembering to remove the bay leaves.
You could also try:
Pork, chorizo and bean stew
The beauty of pasta lies in the fact that it feels both light and filling at the same time. Its subtle flavour means it goes well with almost anything! From fresh tomatoes to indulgent cheese sauces, the possibilities are endless when it comes to dressing up this beloved carbohydrate.
Creamy chicken pesto fettuccine
Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Serves: 4
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 500g chicken breast fillets (thinly sliced)
- 300ml half-fat creme fraiche
- 2-3 tbsp pesto
- 375g fettucine
- 1 head of broccoli (cut into florets)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken for 5 mins until a light golden colour.
- Add the creme fraiche for 8 mins, then add the pesto and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Meanwhile, cook the fettucine in a large pan of boiling water for 8 mins, then add the broccoli and cook for another 2 mins. Drain and tip back into the same pan.
- Add the chicken and pesto sauce to the pan, season and stir over a low heat until the mixture is heated through.
- Serve straight away.
You could also try:
If you thought comfort food was all about the meats, think again - many of the popular recipes are completely meat-free and utterly delicious. Leaving the meat out is also another great way of cutting down the cost of these comforting meals.
Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes Serves: 4
- 1 large cauliflower
- 300ml (½ pint) milk
- 110g (4oz) cheddar cheese
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 50g (2oz) butter
- 25g (1oz) fresh breadcrumbs
- ½ tsp mustard
- Salt & black pepper
- Trim the cauliflower and boil in salted water for 10-15 minutes or until just tender.
- Drain and place in a flame-proof dish.
- Add the milk, flour and butter to a saucepan.
- Heat, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens, boils and is smooth.
- Allow to simmer for a further 2 minutes.
- Add three-quarters of the grated cheese, mustard, a pinch of nutmeg and seasoning.
- Cook for further minute stirring well.
- Pour the sauce over the cauliflower.
- Mix the remaining cheese and breadcrumbs together, sprinkle over the top.
- Place under a hot grill until golden brown.
- Serve immediately.
Prep time: 45 minutes Cook time: 1 hour and 10 minutes Serves: 4-6
- 2 large aubergines
- 150ml olive oil
- 1 onion (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 1 large garlic clove (peeled and crushed)
- 450g tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tbsp red or white wine or vinegar
- 2 tbsp fresh basil (chopped)
- Pinch sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2x120g Italian Mozzarella cheese (sliced)
- 50g Parmesan cheese (grated)
- Slice the aubergines thinly, then place in a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt. Place a plate on top then leave to degorge for 30 minutes.
- Heat two tablespoons of oil in a heavy based saucepan.
- Add the onion and fry gently until soft.
- Add the tomatoes and tomato purée and fry gently until the juices flow from the tomatoes, stirring constantly to help break them up.
- Add the wine or vinegar, basil, sugar, salt and pepper to taste, stir well to mix.
- Simmer covered for 20 minutes.
- Rinse the aubergines until cold running water, then pat dry with paper towel. Fry aubergines on each side in a single layer until golden.
- Remove and drain on a paper towel. Continue until all the aubergines are cooked.
- Liquidise the tomato sauce in a food processor, then sieve to remove the seeds and skins.
- Pour a thin layer of the tomato sauce over the base of an ovenproof dish, cover with a layer of aubergine, then a layer of mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of Parmesan.
- Repeat these layers until all the ingredients are used finishing with a thick layer of Parmesan.
- Place in a preheated oven at 200C and cook for 40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
- Serve hot or cold with a green salad.
You could also try:
Black bean and aubergine chilli
We're all for a little sweet indulgence once in a while; so whether you are a sticky toffee person or favour the lemon meringue pie, here are our favourite comforting pudding recipes.
Sticky toffee pudding
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 1 hour and 5 minutes Serves: 8
- 55g butter
- 170g sugar
- 170g self-raising flour
- 170g chopped dates
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 litre water
- 200g Muscovado sugar
- 12 tbsp double cream
- 150g butter
- Boil dates with the water and the bicarbonate of soda until mushy. Watch carefully in case it boils over.
- Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs with a little of the flour. Fold in the rest of the flour and add vanilla essence.
- Tip date mixture into egg mixture and mix well (it should be a very sloppy consistency).
- Put into a lightly greased rectangular dish (approx 28x18cm/ 11in X 7 in).
- Bake for 45 min at 175C.
- When cooled cut into portions in dish.
- To make sauce, heat ingredients together until thick - but don't boil.
- Separate the sponge portions slightly and pour sauce over the top. Cover with tin foil and reheat in the oven for 20 mins.
- Serve hot or warm with cream.
Tip. This can be frozen in portions or as a whole.
Seriously sumptuous mocha rum pudding
Prep time: 25 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Serves: 6
- 25g unsalted butter, melted
- 65g cocoa powder
- 75g caster sugar
- 60ml strong black coffee
- 30ml dark rum
- 6 egg whites
- Icing sugar, for the dusting of snow
- Preheat the oven with a baking sheet inside to 190C/Gas 5. Grease six 250ml/1 cup soufflé dishes with the melted butter.
- Mix 15ml/1 tbsp of the caster sugar and the cocoa in a bowl. Tip the mixture into each of the dishes in turn, rotating them so that they are evenly coated.
- Mix the remaining cocoa with the coffee and rum.
- Whisk the egg whites in a clean, grease-free bowl until they form firm peaks. Whisk in the remaining caster sugar.
- Stir a generous spoonful of the whites into the cocoa mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining whites.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared dishes, smoothing the tops. Place on the hot baking sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes or until well risen.
- Serve the puddings immediately.
You could also try:
Lemon meringue pie