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Economy Gastronomy TV Series Recipes - Episode 2

Updated on September 2, 2017

Week 2: The Colton family from Beeston in the West Midlands, Who Spend £410/week on Food

Simon and Isobel Colton are hard-working parents with three kids (10, 8, 7).  Simon's business is feeling the pinch and he's had to make 17 people redundant. The family car is also for sale and they are downsizing, if they can sell the house.

Like most people, the Coltons didn't know how much they spent on food and were surprised to find out it was a massive £410/week.  Isobel's staple dish is grilled chicken portions and boiled rice - and the family are fed up with it.  Isobel Colton cooks twice nightly: first the kids, then later on it's the adults' turn once the kids are in bed.

Some current spends identified were:

  • Kids dinners £42/week
  • They are pudding crazy, with the kids have a pudding with every meal; puddings £49/week
  • Isobel shops 5x a week at a total cost of £191.14/week in supermarkets
  • Isobel spends a further £69.72/week on top ups from local shops
  • They eat out every day at work and spend £50.50/week on lunch

This comes to a whopping £17,000/year, 3.5x as much as the average family of 5. £330/week.

Their new budget is £210/week

This Week's Bedrock Recipe: Daube of Beef.

Bedrock Recipe

  • Daube of Beef

This week's bedrock recipe was made by braising chuck steak with whole shallots, a little bit of bacon (cut into lardons), quite a lot of red wine, bit of stock. a bunch of Thyme (wrapped as a bunch, then removed before serving)

It used £20 of chuck steak, but it will make 15 portions of food.

Tumbledowns and Other Meals:

  • Pappardelle with Slow-Cooked Beef and Mushrooms (beef and ribbon pasta)
  • Beef Pasty
  • Quick Spiced Chicken Thighs and Emergency Biryani
  • Chocolate Brownies
  • Thai Spiced Steamed Mussels

Economy Gastronomy Recipes: Daube of Beef.
Economy Gastronomy Recipes: Daube of Beef. | Source

Bedrock Recipe: Daube of Beef

  • Cut the chuck steak into cubes
  • Peel shallots
  • Cut up bacon into small pieces
  • 1litre of stock
  • Plae all the ingredients into a large saucepan and let it simmer for awhile before transferring to an oven dish with a lid.
  • Cover and put in the oven for 3 hours at 200°C

Serve with colcannon and green vegetables


This is a traditional Irish dish that is simply mashed potato with spring onions.

Tumbledown Recipe: Pappardelle with Slow-Cooked Beef and Mushrooms

This tumbledown recipe takes 1/3rd of the bedrock beef, mixes it with ribbon pasta and tops that off with a homemade salsa.

  • Take 1/3rd of the bedrock beef and put it in a large pan
  • Add mushrooms (Oyster or Shitake or button mushrooms all work well)
  • Mix together in a saucepan and heat through

Salsa Recipe

  • Chop flat leafed parsley and basil
  • Chop some ripe cherry tomatoes in half
  • Put them in a bowl
  • Add a capful of red wine vinegar
  • Grate parmesan into the bowl
  • Finish off with a good glug of extra virgin oil and a pinch of salt

Bring it Together

  • Once the ribbon pasta is cooked, add to the beef pan and mix together
  • Spoon out the mix into individual bowls
  • Top with the salsa mix
  • Serve immediately

Larder Essentials by Allegra McEvedy

Each week Allegra gives some tips for Larder Essentials, this week it was:

  • Onions, brown onions are all purpose; red onions are milder and sweeter - they grill and roast well and go well with tomatoes.  Shallots are nice roasted whole, with some vinegar on.  They are nearly double the price, so only use them when you need them
  • Garlic - it doesn't last forever, once it sprouts then it's no good, but you can chop it up and stir it into oil and it'll keep in the fridge for about a month.
  • Eggs - it is wrong to keep eggs in the fridge, they cook better from room temperature
  • Lemons - if you add a pinch of salt and a sqeeze of lemon to dishes that haven't quite worked out it can really turn them around

Expert Tips: Using Cheaper Cuts of Meat

Brian Randall, Randalls Butchers gave his tips for using cheaper cuts of meat.

Ask for skirt or bavette steak, half the price of sirloin and 1/3rd of the price of fillet
cut it against the grain, quite thinly fry in a pan with white wine and shallots, fry for one minute each side
Flank - bought on or off the bone, off the boan use in casseroles; on the bone use for making soups, broths, gravies and stocks.
Brisket - chest area. Pot roast, all your veg in, next day beef sandwiches, next day stir fries.  Half the cost of rump steak.

Quick Spiced Chicken Thighs with Emergency Biryani

This was a favourite recipe for me, a quick and easy chicken biryani with the minimum of ingredients or fuss.  Note the special instructions on cooking the rice as that's the 'secret' to this - and something the family did wrong when they cooked it.

  • Take some chicken thighs and slash a couple of cuts through to the bone into each thigh

Simple Chicken Marinade

  • Couple of spoons of natural yogurt, garlic, couple of spoons of curry powder, ground cumin
  • Add a good dollop of sweet chilli sauce and some liquid from the top a jar of stem ginger (it looked to be just under a teaspoon)
  • Work the spices into the thighs.
  • Set the marinaded chicken to one side, to give the spices time to infuse - the chicken will be going into the frying pan 20 minutes before serving.

Biryani Rice

  • Heat up a frying pan with a splash of vegetable oil
  • Add some chopped onion and chopped garlic
  • Add a scattering of chilli flakes and a heaped spoon of Ground turmeric
  • Add sliced button mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add a pinch of salt
  • Add 60g of rice per person
  • Jiggle the dish about a little (circular movements to mix it in) - don't stir it as you don't want to release the starch, this would ruin it.
  • You have to add exactly the amout of water (which, conveniently, they didn't say how much, but it was to about 3/4"above the rice level) ... this is a "buy the book" moment :)
  • Once it's simmering, cover the pan with foil and the lid (Note: this covering is important)
  • Boil it really hard for 5 minutes then turn it off, rice will absorb all the steam and cook itself. Let it steam for 20 minutes. DO NOT remove the foil/lid until the end.
  • This is the point where you need to take the marinating chicken out and start to fry it - the chicken takes 20 minutes or so.
  • After the 20 minutes of rice steaming, tip some peas and finely chopped tomatoes on top of the rice, cover for another 5 minutes, stir the peas/tomatoes in

Serve the chicken and rice

Overall, a straight forward and easy chicken biryani dish!

Thai Spiced Steamed Mussels

This dish is Mussels with coriander, garlic and chilli (serves 4)

  • Do all the chopping first, so you're simply adding the ingredients when needed.
  • Slice the chillie, Chop the spring oniions, including the green parts,shred the coriander, including the stalks, chop lots of garlic - at least a couple of cloves per serving
  • Mix together chicken stock, coconut milk, really good spoon of a thai red curry paste.  Mix really well.
  • Mussels should all be closed. If they are open give them a tap. If they close, they're fine. If they stay open, bin them.
  • Tip mussels into a large pan of rapid boiling water.
  • Pour in the coconut stock
  • Add the chilli, then the garlic,stir well
  • The mussels should be open by now and simmering.  Give it a final stir.
  • Spoon out the mussels into a large bowl
  • Pour the hot stock over the top
  • Sprinkle coriander and spring onions on top.

Serve and eat.  One big bowl of mussels between friends.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Again, this recipe was covered in Economy Gastronomy, without the quantities being divulged, but here's the recipe:

  • Whisk eggs and sugar together until the mix balloons up
  • Add coffee (when a recipe asks for coffee it means liquid, not a spoon of dry coffee, so make up some coffee as if you were going to drink it and use that)
  • Pour the coffee on top of the eggs while they are still whisking away
  • Pour the chocolate on top of the whisked eggs
  • Incorporate the chocolate, spooning it in slowly, keeping the lightness of the eggs.
  • Mix together flour and baking powder and a pinch of salt and add these to the mix.
  • Fold that in carefully, making sure you reach to the bottom of the bowl
  • Add some bits - e.g. macadamia nuts go well, but any nuts will do, white chocolate chips
  • Fold that lot through
  • Spoon it out and dollop it onto a baking tray, no need to be round and pretty, just dollops.
  • Place in the oven for 8 minutes. You know they're cooked when they start to crack on the surface, but they are best when they are just a bit undercooked in the middle

They would last a week in the cupboard in an airtight dish.

The Economy Gastronomy Book: An Ideal Present


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