In print February 2019
Love is in the air. Valentines Day on the 14th is always a good excuse for a little romance. All those dottie love-struck love birds out on their dates. Each year we see the couples getting younger and younger. My children will be starting soon. But if you’re not in the mood for romance there is another special event happening in February, the Rugby.
More importantly Scotland is playing Italy at Murrayfield on 2 February and my heart as far as rugby is concerned belongs to Scotland. My brothers all played (three played much better than one but that one was good at everything else so we forgave him). My son loves rugby but I can’t watch him as I cringe at the thought of any of the boys getting hurt, especially my beautiful boy, Well I am an Italian Mamma after all.
Recently I’ve started to listen to games on the radio as it’s even more heightened as the commentary is always world class and not being able to see the game the atmosphere feels more electric and the anticipation and adrenaline is incredible. I’m usually listening in the car but for a Scotland v Italy game I think I better park so there’s no accidents at my end.
Thankfully we’re always super busy when the matches are on. With 67,000 crowd capacity at Murrayfield and sell out games months in advance everyone in the city gets the benefit. But if you’re entertaining at home I’ve got the perfect Italian Scots recipe for you – Italian Stew. This is best made one or two days in advance and it’s one of those classic all in one recipes that all the meat and veg are there that you need so no extra pans required and far less washing up. Red wine if Italy wins and beer if Scotland wines both work perfectly.
This has always been a family favourite of ours and when the boys came back from a match my mother would often have this for us. In the 70’s before the artisan bakery was in vogue the closest thing we got to hand made bread was a Mothers Pride loaf. We all used to fight for the thick door stopper end to soak up the juices. Now you can enjoy with a fabulous sourdough or homemade focaccia if you’re happy to be baking and listening to the match on the radio.
1 kilo best stewing lamb cut into chunks (you can use beef if you prefer)
500g baby potatoes, skin peeled
690ml jar of passata
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 small bay leaf
2 – 3 red peppers, seeds removed and cut into chunks
2 – 3 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
Season with salt and black pepper
1. Choose a large casserole pot with a lid, preferably one you can finish in the oven
2. Lightly cook the onion in the oil and remove and set aside. Fry the meat until brown and season with salt and black pepper.
3. Add the onions, the passata, bay leaf and the baby potatoes.
4. Place the lid on the casserole and bake in the oven for 1 hour 30 minutes until the meat is tender. Gas mark 6 / 7.
5. Remove from the oven and add the pepper. Make sure you mix them through so they are under the liquid.
Reheat when required and enjoy with some lovely homemade focaccia.