Some Christmas Comfort Food – I’m sure many of you watched Simple Comforts back in September, the TV series with Mary Berry – doyenne of British cooking – travelling around and producing mouth-watering recipes. If you’re looking for a last-minute Christmas gift – or just treat yourself – look no further than the book from the series: Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts. It’s a celebration of the best comfort food, with fuss-free recipes that can warm the cockles and lift our spirits. And let’s face it, with this Covid Christmas we certainly need that! But you’ll find comfort in this collection of over 120 easy new recipes. Mary’s ultra-reliable recipes are great for pre-and post-Christmas days, when you want easy, tasty food. Return from a winter walk to the simplicity of a Split Roasted Squash with Garlic and Chilli Butter, or a warming Spicy Sausage and Red Pepper Hot Pot.
Simple Comforts features all the recipes from the BBC series, plus more, fresh from Mary’s kitchen. Photographs of finished dishes accompany each recipe, with Mary’s no-nonsense tips and each rigorously tested. I think we deserve to treat ourselves, and this book will lift your spirits and inspire you…the results will delight your family!
Here’s a recipe from the book that’s perfect for those ‘Twixmas’ days and it can be made in advance too. A hearty lamb stew, it’s full of flavour and perfect for feeding the family. For an extra hungry family member, just add another can of drained beans.
Braised lamb with sweet potato & haricot beans (Serves 6)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1kg (2lb 3oz) lamb neck fillet, diced
2 large onions, sliced
4 celery sticks, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp medium curry powder
450ml (15fl oz) lamb or beef stock
1 x 400g (14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp sun-dried tomato purée or paste
2 tbsp mango chutney
1 x 400g (14oz) tin of haricot beans, drained and rinsed
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 2cm (.in) cubes
1. You will need a large, deep frying pan or sauté pan with a lid, or a flameproof and ovenproof casserole dish. Preheat the oven to 160 C/140 C fan/Gas 3.
2. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in the pan. Quickly fry the lamb over a high heat, until golden brown all over – you may need to do this in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and set aside.
3. Add the remaining oil to the same pan and fry the onions, celery and garlic for a few minutes. Add the spices and fry for another 30 seconds, stirring. Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato purée or paste and the mango chutney. Bring to the boil, stirring, then add lamb and season with salt and pepper. Stir for a few minutes, then cover the pan with a lid and transfer to the oven for about an hour.
4. Put the pan back on the hob and add the beans and sweet potatoes. Bring everything back up to the boil, then cover the pan again and return to the oven. Continue to simmer for a further 45 minutes or until the lamb is tender and the potatoes are just cooked but still holding their shape. Check the seasoning and serve piping hot.
Prepare ahead: Can be made up to 2 days ahead up to the end of step 3. Reheat, then add the beans and potatoes and proceed as above.
Extracted from Mary Berry Simple Comforts by Mary Berry (BBC Books, £26). Photography by Laura Edwards