Our national trainer Jo Underhay picks her favourite comfort foods, which will satisfy you and your family throughout winter
Trying times call for comfort foods. As winter begins to bite – and COVID-19 restrictions continue – there’s never been a better time to seek solace in the kitchen. Comfort foods don’t just nourish us physically, they can also transport us back to happier times and memories,
satisfying our souls as well as our stomachs. Most of us have a set of tried-and-tested comfort food recipes to fall back on when we need some culinary TLC. Read on to discover which classics, our national trainer Jo serves up when the going gets tough – and the tough need feeding!
Turkey meatballs with tomato sauce
Meatballs are such an iconic Italian comfort food. One of my favourite recipes is this quick and easy version that uses turkey in place of beef for a lighter, but satisfying, result. Whichever meat you choose, for me, it’s all about the tomato sauce. This recipe couldn’t be simpler, and takes just 30 minutes from start to finish. It makes a delicious sauce that goes brilliantly with meatballs, pasta, fish and just about anything else you can think of.
All you need is a saucepan and some medium-high heat. I’m a huge fan of induction hobs, and our C950i certainly cooks as good as it looks! This ultra-stylish, multi-zone model can even be configured in an eye-catching semi-circle around the control panel. It can be fitted inset or flush for a super-sleek look that’s perfect for contemporary kitchens.
Top tip: It might seem a strange ingredient if you haven’t made tomato sauce before, but don’t be tempted to skimp on the sugar. It’s only a teaspoon, but it really does cut the acidity of the tomatoes for a smoother, more balanced finish.
This is one of my go-to winter comfort foods, but it’s fair to say that some recipes are quite needy. This version, however, is a simple, speedy option for a warming mid-week family meal. It’s perfect for pescatarians, yet hearty enough to satisfy the most committed carnivores, too. I sometimes use a packet of mixed fish instead of salmon and cod fillets.
While this dish is delicious, lingering fish odours are rather less appetising. The solution? A powerful extractor which you can find with our DD940BK induction downdraft. In fact, it features four speeds plus an ultra-quiet motor. The hob not only looks good but it performs brilliantly, too. Best of all, the extractor uses state-of-the-art Plasma technology to purify the air and eliminate practically every unpleasant odour. And it’s all cleverly concealed from view below our frameless induction hob.
Top tip: Add some vegetables to the mashed potato topping to boost your recommended 5-a-day. Carrots, butternut squash and sweet potato all work really well.
Lancashire lamb hotpot
For me, a comfort foods recipe round-up would not be complete without a Lancashire Lamb Hotpot. Hearty lamb stew, topped with layers of tasty potato and brushed with butter – it almost makes winter worthwhile! There are no shortcuts to a proper hotpot however, so save this for a weekend when time is not tight. It’s prepped on the hob, but most of the cooking is done in the oven.
I’d suggest our A-energy rated C2402SS pyrolytic oven would be ideal for this slow-cooked people-pleaser. Our signature MotionHeat+ technology ensures the desired temperature is reached rapidly, with no need to preheat (saving you time and money). Plus this oven’s pyrolytic self-cleaning function also makes short work of any spills and drips.
Top tip: This is a rather rich dish so I like to serve it with steamed green vegetables. A medley of broccoli, green beans, peas and leeks always goes down well.
Ham and cheese tortellini
Pasta is probably one of the most versatile comfort foods out there. The homemade option is easier than you might think (I promise!). To ease you in gently, this recipe shows you how to shape your own tortellini from fresh pasta sheets. Once they are rolled, filled and rested, they cook in just 2-3 minutes, so make sure you’re paying full attention!
Our C876i ribbon induction hob is perfect if you’re after a high-performance appliance, but you’re short on workspace, with a 380mm depth. It even includes a bridging function that allows you to create one large zone (from two smaller ones). Always useful if you’re cooking pasta for a crowd and need to accommodate a large pan!
Top tip: Don’t boil your tortellini, or the pasta might break. Simmer gently in salted water, and serve with lashings of black pepper, some basil and perhaps some shaved Pecorino.
Easy chilli con carne
For many this is a classic student staple, but chilli con carne always makes me think of Bonfire Night. It’s certainly perfect comfort food refuelling after alfresco fireworks! Chilli is very versatile and so forgiving. I like to ring the changes and serve mine with rice, noodles or oven-baked jacket potatoes. In terms of the prep, I love that everything is done on the hob, so all you have to do is stir and season.
If you’re a fan of cooking with gas, feast your eyes on our C981G Touch Control Gas-On-Glass Hob. It features five gas burners (including triple, rapid and simmer). Residual heat indicators, a flame safety device with auto restart, and a child safety lock deliver extra peace of mind.
Top tip: This recipe is freezer-friendly. However, make sure you allow to cool completely before transferring it there. This dish will keep for up to two months.
Thanks to Coronavirus, not many of us made it anywhere exotic this year. But you can ‘travel’ through your taste buds, courtesy of Mary Berry’s Moroccan tagine-inspired one-pot lamb stew! The best comfort foods are rich, warming and flavourful – and this recipe ticks every box for me.
It’s quick to prep but slower to cook (around two hours in the oven). Our C2362 electric oven uses our signature MotionHeat+ top to achieve even cooking results and prevent flavour and aroma transfer. I find this always so useful when cooking tagines and curries, for example.
Top tip: The cooking time for this can vary quite a bit, depending on the size of the lamb pieces used. Smaller chunks will speed up the process.
Bean and chorizo stew
If Spain is your usual holiday destination, this hearty chorizo and bean stew might just alleviate any yearnings. Composed mostly of store-cupboard staples, this low-maintenance recipe is prepared entirely on the hob.
If your kitchen design allows, I’d recommend our black glass C824C ceramic hob. It features such a spacious cooking platform, which I love. The frameless design can be flush-mounted for a more minimalist, professional look, too. You’ll find the hob is designed to suit pots and pan of various sizes – ideal if you’re planning to cook rice or potatoes to serve with this stew.
Top tip: If you’re not a fan of chorizo, substitute with sausage or even some chopped bacon.
The final offering in my comfort foods recipe round-up is this roasted salmon chowder. This soup has real depth of flavour, and it freezes well too if you want to plan ahead and batch-cook. The vegetables and stock are prepped on the hob, but the salmon fillets need to be roasted before you add them.
Top tip: Before freezing, divide the chowder into single-portion bags for a speedy lunch or solo supper option.
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