Procook: Why we love Winter warmers!

It happens every year, but we always seem surprised when the wintery weather sets in and we are suddenly faced with cold snaps, sniffles and ice on the car. Here at Livingston Designer Outlet the first thing we turn to is comfort food – our favourite dishes like stews and oven bakes that make us feel warm inside. We’ve got three great recipe ideas below, and what better way to prepare them than in a cast iron casserole?

But before we get to the tasty stuff, with perfect timing ProCook have launch some new colours of their best-selling cast iron range, so we asked them what makes cast iron such a fantastic investment:

It’s easy to clean

For anyone who likes easy clean cookware (let’s face it, who doesn’t?) cast iron is a fantastic option. Machine casting ensures that the surface of a cast iron pot is extremely smooth, so very easy to clean. It is then coated inside and out in a tough enamel which has amazing non-stick properties.

It cooks food evenly

Cast iron is renowned for even heat distribution. This means that when you place a cast iron dish on a hob it will heat completely evenly and your dish will cook at the same pace across the base of the pot. If you then add liquid and transfer that same dish to the oven it will heat the contents thoroughly from top to bottom. Even heat distribution works equally well in cast iron at both low and high temperatures so you have great control over your dish.

It’s tough and durable

There is a reason that cast iron gets passed down the generations, and it’s because it is so long lasting. Both the enamel coating and the way it is constructed contribute to the incredible toughness of cast iron – it’s very hard to scratch and impossible to warp.

It’s super versatile

Believe it or not, you can make fantastic bread and even cakes in cast iron, due to the even cooking at both high and low temperatures. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even try a baking a large pie in a shallow casserole!

It’s great for batch cooking

Whether it’s a soup, chilli or pasta sauce, cast iron casseroles tend to have very generous capacities and can move seamlessly from hob to oven, making them the perfect batch cooking companion, ideal for a busy family and great on the pocket too.

It saves you time

Perennially popular, the one-pot dish is the holy grail for family life. We all want to just whack the dinner on and settle in for a cup of tea when we get in from work and a one-pot meal such as stew, chilli or risotto ticks all the boxes. Cast iron casseroles are the ultimate tool for your one pot dishes.


Simple Sausage Casserole

Ingredients
• Good glug olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 crushed garlic cloves
• 2tsp smoked paprika
• 6-8 sausages (meat or vegetarian)
• 1 tin cannellini beans
• 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
• 200ml stock (meat or vegetable)
• Salt and pepper
• 1–2 bay leaves

Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C
2. Heat the oil in the casserole on a low to medium setting on the hob
3. Gently fry the onions until soft
4. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute
5. Mix in the paprika
6. Add the sausages and brown for a few minutes
7. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine
8. Cover and place in the oven, cooking for 30 mins (or longer if desired)
9. Serve in pasta bowls with crusty bread or mashed potato


Classic Stew

Ingredients
• 2-3 tbsp olive oil
• 2 tbsp plain flour
• 750g meat (beef or lamb – chopped into 2cm cubes)
• 2 onions, sliced
• 2 celery sticks, chopped
• 3 carrots chunky chopped
• 500g floury potatoes
• 600ml beef or lamb stock
• 2 bay leaves
• Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 180˚C
2. Chop all your meat and vegetables
3. Gently heat the oil in your casserole on a low to medium hob heat
4. Fry onion until soft
5. Season flour in a bowl and coat each piece of meat
6. Add meat to the casserole and fry until brown
7. Add remaining vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes
8. Add stock and bay leaves
9. Cover and place casserole in the centre of the oven
10. Cook for 1 hour or until meat is tender.
11. Serve with crusty bread and buttered green beans


Spanish chorizo and sweet pepper rice

Ingredients
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 4 small sweet peppers, diced (orange and yellow)
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 60g cherry tomatoes
• 1 handful of fresh parsley, snipped (plus extra for garnish)
• 150g fresh smoked chorizo, skinned and sliced
• 125g of wholegrain or brown basmati rice
• Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation
1. Cook rice according to packet instructions
2. Add the oil to a sauté pan or frying pan on a medium to high heat before adding the peppers, onion, cherry tomatoes and most of the parsley until the vegetables begin to soften. This should take approximately 10 minutes
3. Add the sliced chorizo and continue to cook for 5 more minutes
4. Place a couple of bowls in the oven on a low heat to warm
5. Pour in the cooked rice and stir well; place the lid on the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the rice is piping hot. Add salt and pepper to taste
6. Top with the freshly chopped parsley and serve immediately alongside the warm bowls

The ProCook cast iron range starts at £39 and is available in 7 stunning colours. To view the range visit our ProCook store today.