With my menu selection and cooking soon to shift with the seasons, I decided it was time for a long, slow cook. One last winter warmer. This dish is a family favourite and I wish I could claim the recipe as my own creation, but it is taken from a vintage linen tea towel I found a long time ago. I picked it up because I love vintage and linen and tea towels, but it was not until I got it home that I really took notice of it's detail. What a golden little find I had stumbled upon! Oxtail Soup, Onion Soup, Pea Soup and Scotch Broth... oh these are the foods of yesteryear. The slow foods that our Foremothers and Forefathers made. That tea towel now sits tucked away in a drawer and never gets used to dry dishes. It awaits the day I figure out how to justly display it and give credit where credit is due.
So please note that I have no idea who designed this tea towel and so, cannot give acknowledgment, but I can tell you that the meal of Scotch Broth dates back to the mid 1700's with the first documented recipe, but historians believe the basic broth to date back even further. Over the years, there have been countless variations created and some day I may even put a new spin on this one, but for now, we love it just the way it is.
For all non-meat eating folks, it is not my wish to upset you and please know that for many years I also did not eat meat. I have tried to take these photos with utmost respect for your choice and, knowing how delicate this topic is, I have attempted to be discrete with the meat ingredient. As a family, we do consume meat and other animal products, but do so in a deliberate conscious way.
For any local readers, allow me to introduce you to a farmer with whom I am thrilled to have connected. Meet Farmer Chris.
It's probably time I got onto what I cooked up yesterday and why I've titled today's post, 'The Combo Deal'. Well, it was Scotch Broth for dinner last night which could easily be done in a slow cooker but I tend to do it on the stove since I'm already creating a dirty pot with sauteing the vegetables and browning the meat. I always use lamb shanks for this and simmer it all day. It is darn right delicious! Usually I have enough homemade stock on hand (in the freezer) to cater for the 15 cups (5 pints), but I only decided to make this the night before and came up short with my frozen supplies. So this time around it is the combo deal because I've used homemade chicken stock, nettle water left over from blanching and freezing nettles (my back yard is a wonderful place to forage), plus a couple of packets of good quality, fresh stock purchased and made locally. Included with that, is all those other ingredients you see there in the photograph above, throw it all into the biggest pot you've got (you'll need a big one), bring it to the boil and reduce to simmer. Walk away and leave it for 4-6 hours, topping up as needed with a little freshly boiled water and add peas at the last minute.
Oh and one last note on the barley. Don't skip it, it adds the perfect level of heartiness for a hungry family, so much so that I tend to add a little extra to what is suggested. And I also soak the barley overnight in a water/whey mix or water/apple cider vinegar if I've run out of liquid whey. Soaking deactivates that pesky phytic acid as well as improving texture. Rinse thoroughly before adding to the pot.
By the way, there is some good reading and knowledge to be had at that link there.
Six hours later and ready to serve (after I've turned off the heat and allowed it to sit for a bit)