Winter in Ireland can be bitterly cold. We tend to warm ourselves up with a stew or mom’s hotpot but somewhere between October 23rd and November 30th, there comes a point where you can’t quite stand any more stew, no matter how good Your mom’s stew may be.
Luckily there is an antidote and it comes – unexpectedly – in the form of Italian food.
Of course, we know that pasta is hearty and pizza makes a brilliant meal before, after and during the pub but do we think of it as a winter warmer?
Let’s take a look at some of Italy’s better and lesser known dishes and perhaps you can convince mom to put her feet up while you take over the cooking.
Pasta is a great Italian staple. It’s easy to whip up in a flash but can too often be bastardized with shop-bought pesto. Great Italian pasta is simple: remember the famous “Bolognese” or Ragù as it’s known in Italy?
With fresh ingredients, you can create something rich and warming: a perfect Ragù combines tomatoes and minced meat into the ideal savory dish for a winter evening. It’s a heavy sauce, best cooked slowly over time.
Equally, you could just take a look at deliveroo.ie and enjoy the hearty meal without the hard work.
Cooking pizza at home may seem like a bit of a hassle at first, but it certainly beats a deep pan pizza from SuperValu. The biggest challenge, though, is getting your oven hot enough to cook the dough quickly.
Some chefs recommend cooking the dough in a frying pan on the highest heat of your hob before placing in the oven to ensure that the bottom of the pizza is thoroughly cooked.
Oven temperatures aside, good Neapolitan pizza should be easy as the ingredients are so simple. Crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, and a little basil are the only ingredients needed atop a proper Neapolitan pizza.
However, if you’re looking for something a little heartier then you could try a Florentine pizza: add a bit of spinach before the end of cooking and then crack an egg in the middle. Bellissima!
Spezzatino di Manzo
Spezzatino di Manzo is the stew your Irish mom would cook if she had been born in Rome instead of Cork. It would still bubble in the oven all day but it probably wouldn’t spend the week in the fridge as leftovers.
This slowly-cooked beef dish is infused with powerful herbs such as rosemary and sage and, for some extra extravagance, pancetta is added to the mix before it is left to cook slowly until the chuck steak falls apart on the fork.
For a little extra bulk, add some risotto rice just before the end of the cooking time for a hearty meal which will probably leave you falling asleep in front of the sofa.
When people ask, you can tell them that nothing beats mom’s stew and nobody has to know you’ve actually mastered the art of cooking the perfect Neapolitan pizza in your old home oven.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder and with a couple of stew-free weeks, you’ll be happy to go back to eating it right through to June!