My parents both lived through World War II, in fact my Dad was in the Merchant Navy making sure the convoys carrying food and aircraft fuel got through to the UK and later to Russia. He joined the Navy in 1942 when he was 16! They lived the early years of their marriage during the times of rationing, and that meant that we were all brought up with the strict edict of ‘waste no, want not’. And old habits die hard!
I am one of four children so making every item of food go as far as it could was very important. A favourite dish of Mum’s was stuffed marrow. Take the leftovers from a bit of roast lamb (we never had roast beef, it was too expensive), mince it up with lots of onions and perhaps some red lentils to bulk it out if necessary – cook slowly for an hour until you have a flavoursome mince, then use to stuff a couple of marrows. Bake in the oven until the marrows are soft and the meat is bubbling. Serve with mashed potatoes and, if you wish, another vegetable - perhaps carrots to provide a colour contrast. It’s the essence of comfort food to me, and brings back a lot of childhood memories – and cooking with Mum was where my passion for food and cooking came from.
For this stuffed marrow I used some left over slow cooked shoulder of lamb that we had for Sunday lunch a couple of weeks ago, and that I had frozen. It didn’t need much chopping up but if you are using something a bit less well cooked it might be better to use a food processor. Just be careful not to process too much, you need to keep some texture. This isn’t spicy, or edgy, or innovative. It’s just a bit of old fashioned English cookery.
I medium sized marrow (about 14” long), washed1 tblsp vegetable oil
1medium onion, finely chopped
300g or so of cooked lamb or beef
If you want to make from raw use 500g mince and fry off with the onion, then stir in flour etc. and proceed as in recipe1 tblsp. flour
Dash of Lee & Perrins
250 ml beef stock
1 tblsp. Tomato puree
Put the oven on at 200 degrees C
Slice the marrow lengthways and, using a tablespoon, scoop out the seeds so you are left with two ‘boats’.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion gently until soft and translucent. Add the cooked meat and stir until coloured. Add the flour, stir until cooked out, then add the Lee & Perrins, stock, tomato puree and 250ml water. Simmer for 30 minutes or so until you have a thickish mince but with a little residue gravy. Taste and season with salt and black pepper as necessary.
Line a baking tray with foil, put the marrow boats in, try to wedge together so that they are supporting each other, and fill with the mince. Cook for 30 minutes then check on progress. Cover with foil if browning too fast. Cook for another 15 minutes. By this time the marrow should be cooked and infused with the mince juices and the mince should have a nice crusty top.
Serve with additional vegetables and potato – we had it just as it is.