Today we’re making a lovely, spicey, crap-weather-beating stew out of the beauties above.
What you need:
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed (not crushed)
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 of each, peeled and cubed: large yam, medium pepper or butternut squash (or the squash of your choice, really,) medium turnip
3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into circles
6 medium sized red potatoes, cubed – I don’t peel these
2 teaspoons each: whole mustard, cumin, coriander, allspice & fennel seeds (I prefer to use the whole, unground versions of these spices as I find their flavours stay stronger over longer periods of time than their ground versions)
2 teaspoons each: ground turmeric, cinnamon (yes! cinnamon! it will be wonderful, never fear!), nutmeg, cayenne pepper (because these things are hard to find whole and harder to grind if you do)
2 mushroom bouillon cubes
1 herbes fines bouillon cube (okay, I’m only using this because I want to try it – you can substitute that for a tablespoon each of thyme, oregano, sage and fresh parsley)
3 tbsp olive oil
How to do it:
Cube/slice/smash/chop all of the vegetabley ingredients listed above. If you’re anything like me your table will look a little like the following picture when you’re done:
Then toss the whole mustard, cumin, coriander, allspice & fennel seeds into a mortar & pestle or a spice grinder (aka: coffee grinder – some people in rich countries keep several of these for various reasons, however my Queendom is not so auspicious – okay, okay. We did trade the second coffee grinder for a set of stella artois glasses.)
With that we’ll grind them into a coarse (as opposed to fine) powder. To that we’ll add the rest of the spices (but not the herbs!) Then we toss that into a large pot over medium-high heat:
And we’re going to leave them there, stirring occasionally, until out little spicey friends become over-poweringly fragrant and start to pop. Again, you’ll have to take my word on this, but they will pop. At which point we’ll add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and stir until everything’s coated. To that we’ll add the thinly sliced red onion and smashed cloves of garlic and stir a bunch more until the onions are translucent. At this point we add our potatoes and only our potatoes so help us Ford. Oh, and a little salt. Like, a teaspoonful. And we stir again.
What’s going on at this point is our salt and butter and potatoes are all mixing together and convincing the potatoes to release some of their starches which will serve to thicken the sauce later. It’s important to not allow the potatoes to brown too much for this very reason, but if they brown a bit that’s ok too.
Then we add all of the other splendid autumnal vegies….and yes; we stir again. We want to get them all coated with those spices we worked so hard to put together.
We’ll let them sit there like that, still over medium-high heat, still stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Then we’ll add just enough water to cover our vegies.
At this point we’re going to turn the heat down to medium-low, put a lid on it and leave it to its own devices. I’m going to go get the kids from the bus stop (but not before waiting until there’s a little movement in the pot then turning it down to the lowest heat possible on the burner because I’m paranoid of fires.)
Your finished stew should be thick, but still have tender but identifiable chunks of vegetables in it.
Because vegetable stews are a wee bit more delicate than meat-based stews, I tend to not make dumplings with them and opt for buttermilk tea biscuits instead.