Stovies

10 Oct
There’s as many stovies recipes as last names in Scotland. Well maybe not but there’s a lot. As family recipes are handed down and modified and adapted they evolve into something altogether unique with each generation (unless you’re my cousin who makes them exactly the same as my auntie and who makes them exactly the same as my Granny used to).

The basic ingredients are potatoes, onions, fat of some sort and stock of some sort. In my Granny’s day (even my Mum’s to be honest) the fat and stock would have come from roast dripping, either from the Sunday roast or bought in little tubs at the butcher. My Granny used to add garden peas but I don’t remember there being any actual meat in hers. My Mum stuck with this no meat version for a while too. Then sometimes she’d serve corned beef on the side. Then she started adding it to the pot. Asking around my friends has revealed a range of different stovies add-ins; roast beef, roast lamb, minced beef, minced lamb and corned beef are usual. Few people add peas I have to say. And we all have our own way of preparing the potatoes and onions. My next door neighbour is the first and only stovies maker I’ve known to use huge thick slices (no meat or peas and served with oatcakes) – and lovely.

Despite the different methods and ingredients somehow stovies are always recognisable. We know a plate of stovies when we see one. By the time I came to adapt my Mum’s recipe to suit me and mine I couldn’t thole the thought of using beef dripping. My stovies are a wee bit healthier than that and after tasting them I couldn’t ever go back to real dripping, unless my auntie makes them cos for some reason hers just don’t taste as artery clogging as my efforts.

Anyway, my stovies…

Serves a fair few folk (at least 6)
  • 4lb potatoes peeled and chopped roughly into 1″ chunks
  • 2lb onions peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 beef stock cubes dissolved in 1/3pt boiling water (V: veggie cubes just as tasty)
  • 1 tin corned beef (V – or peas, or nothing!)

Chuck everything except the corned beef into a heavy bottomed pot, cover, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and stir occasionally to stop it all sticking to the bottom and ruining your Granny’s pot cos that does happen.

And that’s it.

Once the onions are soft and the potatoes are well cooked and breaking up, chop the corned beef into chunks, chuck it in, stir, heat through and serve.

You would not believe the difference it makes if you slice the potatoes, or chop the onions in bigger bits, or add peas (I would if my son wasn’t allergic), or use lamb stock rather than beef (really it depends what I have in the cupboard).

Once, when I was little, my Dad made them. We all sat down to eat Dad’s stovies and we couldn’t quite put our finger on what it was that compelled us to chuck half a ton of salt on them. We also tried pepper. We were politely eating away, baffled, when my Mum piped up “There’s no onions in these is there?”

Some adaptations just don’t work.

stovies

They lend themselves to photography about as well as something a no very well dog might present you with but honestly they are quite delish.

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One Response to “Stovies”

  1. Littlemummy October 11, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    My mother in law makes hers with sausages. I think it was one of these dishes made from leftovers, there are so many variations. My mum calls such dishes atchit batchit and scratchit, which has an appetiting ring to it, not!

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