After the excesses of December with Christmas and New Year, we’re going to kick of January with some truly nurturing, healthy and comforting food – there no time of year when a a bit of comfort is needed more than cold, dark January! It’s also a great time to ‘ start as you mean to go on’ by making the very most of the winter veg that come in the weekly veg box. This vegetable ragu is the epitome of hearty – robust celeriac, carrots and leeks ( with some white beans for added protein) and slowly cooked in a flavoursome combination of dark ale and mustard until the veg are softened and enrobbed in a tasty sauce. The ale adds a surprising note, the initial bitter tones are mellowed by the mustard and dairy-free cream, creating a wonderful comforting stew. This is food to eat in front of a roaring fire whilst wearing slippers – it’s may not be fine dining, by my it is tasty!
Rebel Brewing Company kindly sent me a gift box of their eighty shilling dark ale to review. Now I’m no beer drinker, I find even larger too bitter, but D is a big craft beer fan and was delighted to have a new beer to sample. He found it rich, dark and mighty Cornish Ale.
This is hoe Rebel Brewing Company describes it: ’80 Shilling is a Celtic beer which is dark with a red eclipse when held in the light. It is characterised by a roasted malty smell and the taste of coffee and black treacle. IT has a sweetness not always associated with this style of beer. The taste of hops is still prevalent through the beer.’
As is my want, I was desperate to fit it into a recipe. I had initially planned a cake, but when our veg box arrived, stuffed full of winter roots, my mind was changed and I opted for this veg box ragu. Not having used ale in cooking before I was surprised as the results – less sweet than cider or wine based dishes, the ale nonetheless gave a wonderful depth of flavour which is perfect in hearty winter foods. I’ll definitely be using more ale in my savoury dishes.
Veg Box Ragu
(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan)
1 onion, chopped,
1 leek, washed and sliced
2 carrots, chopped
1/2 celeriac, peeled and chopped into even sized cubes
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 sprig of rosemary
5 peppercorns, roughly crushed
200 ml dark ale
2 tsp whole grain mustard
1/2 tin cannellini beans
1-2 tbsps dairy-free cream ( I used oatly)
1-2 tbsps Dijon mustard
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
- Gently fry the onion and leek in1 tbsp oil and a pinch of salt until it is soft and slippery but not coloured
- Add the carrots, celeriac, garlic and rosemary. Stir until you can smell the aromats
- Pour over the ale and stir in the whole grain mustard. Cover and gently simmer for about 15 minutes until the veg is cooked through.
- Add the beans, cream and Dijon mustard and continue to bubble for a couple of minutes to thicken the sauce.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as required.
- Serve on mash or colcannon, or wet polenta for a hearty meal.