I like beef stew and since discovering the Jewish dish Cholent, I've adapted the recipe and that is an indicator of growing confidence with cooking.
David's Beef stew
It seems to me that the overriding principle behind cholent is taking time. Yes there are beef, onions, vegetables and garlic but you have the choice of what you put in the pot, but then you cook it for a very long time. In the most authentic versions pearl barley and butter beans are a common theme but the one above is without either of those ingredients.
In the above stew, it isn't really cholent, there are baked beans, tomatoes, beef, onions, sweet potato and black pudding as well as new potatoes. It is seasoned and flavoured with black pepper, mustard, garlic, tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce.
I can see that a stick of celery (yuck!!!) carrots and pulses of many types would go well. In some ways what is missing from the standard stew are wine, bay leaves, turnip or swede, bacon and green beans.
What is interesting for me is that I have had the confidence to step away from a written recipe and created something that suits my palate. In fact one addition that will not be everyone's cup of tea is black pudding. It adds flavour to the beef and thickens the sauce.
Black pudding seems to have the same influence on people as Marmite - either love it or hate it! So perhaps a little education may be of value to those who are uncertain about the product.
To get the 'nasty' bit out of the way, black pudding is made from pork blood, minced onions, diced fat and oats, plus flavourings that produce local variations such as Stornaway Black Pudding.
It can be eaten cold, fried, boiled or baked and is an essential part of a full English breakfast, particularly in the North. Blood sausage or pudding is not exclusive to the UK, there are versions across most of Europe.
The history of black pudding is long and varied. Romans produced black pudding and the recipes lingered in various conquered countries across Europe long after the Roman Empire had fallen. It was particularly popular in medieval England around pig killing time in the autumn. Pig's were very cheap to rear as they forage for their own food and are quite hardy, so the peasants had pigs rather than the more expensive beasts. When they were slaughtered the whole animal could be used for food including the blood, hence the black pudding. When the puddings had been produced they were shared in the villages and small communities.
As this tends to be a recipe blog I will include such for black pudding dating back to 1615
Take the blood of a whole hog whilst it is warm, and steep it in a quart, or more, or great oatmeal grits, and at the end of three days with your hands take the grits out of the blood, and drain them clean; then put to those grits more than a quart of the best cream warmed on the fire; then take mother of thyme, parsley, spinach, succory, endive, sorrel, and strawberry leaves, of each a few chopped exceeding small, and mix them with the grits, and also a little fennel seed finely beaten; then add a little pepper, cloves and mace, salt, and great store of suet finely shred, and well beaten; then therewith fill your farmes, and foil them, as hath been before described.
Finally, eat black pudding cold with wholemeal bread, or fry it with bacon, or in a salad made from diced potatoes, apple and black pudding which you see below with a pork chop.