Monday, 6 September 2010

Two meals for teens

This post was prompted by an exchange with one of my most longstanding followers notsupermum, a single parent of two teenage girls. Actually she clearly is a super mum but is far too modest to say so. She was saying the other day that she was pleased the blog was back as she was having to ‘tighten the purse strings’ again and we got to talking (on Twitter) about what her girls would and wouldn’t eat. One of them doesn’t eat much meat and neither are that keen on veg. “They like carrots, sweetcorn, cauli and broccoli” she tweeted. “They dislike peppers, green beans and most others!”

Having had four kids of my own I could identify with that so I thought it would be good if I could come up with a couple of recipes that wouldn’t break the bank, both made from the same set of ingredients. I headed for Sainsbury’s and picked up a pack of British pork shoulder steaks (£3.04 for 600g), a couple of large carrots (27p - cheaper loose than buying them by the bag), a head of broccoli (on special offer at 47p) and a 1 kilo bag of frozen sweetcorn (£1.19).

Sadly at a time when sweetcorn is bang in season it was far cheaper buying it that way than on the cob (the cheapest fresh corn was £1.50 for four ‘cobettes’ - i.e. half sized cobs.) I also got a 55g chunk of fresh ginger (26p) of which I used about a quarter and put the rest in the freezer.

The first meal I made was a stir-fry, which is generally popular with teens. The advantage of them is that they cook quickly and use very little meat. I used about a third of the pork which could easily be replaced with Quorn for a teen who was having an 'off meat' day. We had it with rice but you could serve it with egg noodles for rice-haters. I’d actually like a bit of chopped chilli with it but it’s better to underseason dishes for kids and serve with spicy sauces for those who want more oomph.

Pork and Veggie Stir-fry
(You may think this is a boring name for a recipe but let me assure you it’s better that way with teens. The more ingredients you mention the more reason they find not to like a dish before they've even tasted it. And DON’T whatever you do mention the ginger!)

Serves 3

200g lean pork or chicken (a chicken breast would be fine - or Quorn if you want to turn it veggie)
1 2cm square chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 medium onion or half a bunch of spring onions (which I refused to buy as they were 79p a bunch. In season. Total rip-off!)
1 large carrot
1/3 of a head of broccoli and the stalk
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
100g frozen or fresh sweetcorn
Sweet chilli sauce to serve. (This is good. Wean your kids off ketchup. Buy it in Asian stores where it’s much, much cheaper than in supermarkets.)

Cut the pork or chicken into fine strips. Put it in a bowl with the grated ginger, crushed garlic and soy sauce, mix well and leave it while you prepare the other ingredients. Finely slice the onion, cut the carrots into thin strips, cut the broccoli into small florets and peel the stalk and cut into fine strips. (Broccoli stalks are great for stir-fries). Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and stir-fry the pork for a minute until lightly coloured. Set aside, add a little more oil and fry the onion for a minute or so, then add the carrot, fry for another minute, then the broccoli - another minute - then the corn. Add back the pork and carry on stir-frying until the veg are tender, adding a splash of water if the stir-fry starts to catch. Serve with rice, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce for those who want it.

The following night I turned the remainder of the ingredients into a quick casserole

Creamy pork casserole
Again, not the world’s most inventive title. Doesn’t need to be. Don’t mention the mustard!

Serves 3 easily - 4 with a baked potato

350-400g pork shoulder steaks - or 3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs or 300g Quorn
2 tbsp oil
25g butter
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
Pinch of dried thyme or mixed herbs (optional)
1 dsp plain flour
225ml chicken or veg stock
1/2 a head of broccoli, cut into florets
100g frozen or fresh sweetcorn
1 - 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (essential - this makes the dish)
A heaped tbsp crème fraiche or a couple of tablespoons double cream if you have some
Salt, pepper and possibly a squeeze of lemon

Trim any excess fat off the meat, cut into cubes and season with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan, add the oil then add half the butter. Once it stops foaming add the pork and fry until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer to a casserole. Add a spot more oil and fry the sliced onion and carrot for about 5-6 minutes until beginning to soften. Sprinkle over the thyme, if using, and stir in the flour then add the stock and bring to the boil. Pour over the pork, bring back to simmering point, cover then leave over a low heat for about 30-40 minutes until the pork is tender. Meanwhile microwave or steam the broccoli until just cooked. Pour boiling water over the corn to thaw, drain and toss in the remaining butter. When the pork is cooked take the casserole off the heat and add the mustard and crème fraiche or cream and squeeze of lemon if you think it needs it. Add a little water if the sauce is too thick. Add half the broccoli and corn leaving a little to spoon round the casserole and heat the meat gently without boiling. Serve with new or baked potatoes and the rest of the veg.

So there we are - two good hearty meals for just over £4 (I’d forgotten how filling sweetcorn was) and hopefully two happy teens. Let me know how it goes notsupermum!

Anyone else want to set me a frugal recipe challenge? Just write to me at the address on my profile telling me what you like and dislike . . .


Anonymous said...

What kind of Quorn is used in the casserole recipe?

Fiona Beckett said...

I'd use unflavoured Quorn fillets - though it seems harder than it used to be to find unflavoured Quorn. You shouldn't need as much as you do meat - about 75g a head, I'd say. Or soy chunks

Guinea said...

What's wrong with ketchup?

I know Sweet Chilli Sauce is tastier - even on a bacon/sausage butty - but there's only one thing for chips...

Fiona Beckett said...

That is true. Just teens tend to slosh it on everything and it's good to ring the changes!

Jean said...

Oh wow!! I'm really touched that you've done this, thank you!

I like the look of both recipes, and I'll be trying them both soon - will do the casserole one first I think. Will let you know how it goes! Thanks again x

Fiona Beckett said...

A pleasure :) Hope it goes well. Ideally it's best to do the two together as it means you only have to go shopping once and have all the ingredients ready for the other recipe. But whichever way give it a try!