England Day 3 – Lancashire Hotpot

Day three in England we tried another popular dish with a cool name- Lancashire Hotpot. This dish is encompassed by layers of beef or mutton, carrot and onion, thinly sliced potatoes, and an herb butter. Traditionally mutton or lamb kidneys was used due to its accessibility along with other root vegetables. Another comforting dish that is hearty on its own or can be paired with other vegetable side dishes. The name “hotpot” is thought to have one of two meanings- either derived from the word “hodgepodge” due to the layers of ingredients or named after the dish used to make the stew. Either way the name is just as charming as the dish.

The dish was born during the Industrial Revolution in Lancashire. Although the local business of cotton was successful, the workers were paid poorly. Due to the low income and long work hours the creation of this meal gave the workers energy after stewing all day. Potatoes were extremely available due to their ease to grow and really give beauty to the layers of the dish. It is key to slice them thin to give them a crispness.

For the recipe I referenced the cooking time was significantly less than what had been done in the past, but I’m sure their are more traditional ways to prepare the meal that includes hours of slow cooking. I used stew beef as we are not fans of lamb and it was easy to cook. I liked that I used one pot essentially to cook everything. I removed the cooked elements and resembled them in the neat layers you see here. Man do I love my Dutch oven!

What a classic European dish. The meat was tender, check; the gravy was smooth, check, the potatoes were buttery, check check! The variety of veggies was solid and well seasoned. We rated this one 9/10! 🤩

Lancashire Hotpot

Look no further for a hearty meal that will keep you warm on a cold winter's night. This is a crowd pleaser!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp butter 1 tbsp reserved for brushing
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb lamb/beef I used stew beef, traditionally lamb neck/shoulder is used
  • 2 onions thinly sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups chicken/vegetable stock hot
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to preference
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 carrots peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 lb potatoes peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp thyme

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 325. Melt butter and veggie oil in oven safe pot/dutch oven on medium low heat. Fry meat until lightly browned then remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Add onions to pain cooking until soft stirring occasionally. Then return meat to the pot and add the flour allowing to cook for a minute. Add stock, bay leaves, seasoning, and Worcestershire sauce mixing well. Bring mixture to gentle boil. Place in oven and cook for 30 minutes covered.
  • Once 30 minutes have passed add the carrots. Layer the thinly sliced potatoes starting along the outside and working into the center. Top with melted butter and thyme (or any other herbs you'd like). Place back in the oven, covered for 1 hour.
  • After an hour turn heat up to 400 and remove cover allowing it to cook for an additional 30 minutes. Serve with salad or other veggies and enjoy!

(117) Madagascar – Viande Hachée et Pomme de Terre à la Malgache (Minced Meat and Madagascan Potatoes)

Madagascar is an island of Africa found off the coast of Mozambique and is surrounded by smaller islands Comoros, Mayotte, Reunion, and Mauritius. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world and has very diverse wildlife, a good portion of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Source: wereldreis.net

Madagascan cuisine is a reflection of the cultures found on the island. There are 18 ethnic groups all of which have there own particular traditional foods and cooking styles. Their cuisine has three main influences: Chinese, French, and Indian. Traditionally rice is accompanied with every meal and seasoning is sparce, salt in particular is rarely used, us Americans couldn’t imagine.. Fresh sugar cane, fruits, vegetables (asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, and cabbage) and yams are grown on the island. Fish and beef is also consumed here.

To represent Madagascar I found this recipe for viande hachée et pomme de terre à la malgache which translates to “minced meat with Madagascan potatoes.” It is a specialty of Madagascar with a spicy tomato sauce and hearty mix of potatoes and beef. I had originally cooked this with another recipe that is similar but is no longer available, that is why you see the inconsistencies with the ingredients I used.

The ingredients are simple and relatively inexpensive. Cooking is easy and can be completed during the work week.

The meal was unfortunately underwhelming to us. The consistency was different and would probably be better with smaller potato pieces. There was a mild heat that we enjoyed but needed more salt and pepper for sure- 6.5/10 from us.

Kenya Day 2 – Kenyan Pilau

Pilau is a festive and celebratory dish of Eastern Africa. Prepared with either beef or chicken, the dish has tons of seasoning. This rice dish is unlike its’ sister Indian pilau since it lacks curry powder making it less spicy.

The origins of pilau are rooted in Swahili culture. There is debate on weather pilau originated in the Middle East or Africa. However, with further research Indians/Middle Easterners likely brought this dish to Africa and it was then adapted by the locals with what ingredients were more readily available.

This stew-like meal was easy to follow along. I think I should have cooked the liquids down more to dry out the rice as it was intended. The aroma of the spices roasting in the skillet was very enticing.

We thought this meal had an awesome spice profile with cardamom being the stand out. There was a little more moisture (sorry to anyone who hates the word) than anticipated, but at least the meat was tender! 😅 We rated this Kenyan meal 8.5/10

Kenyan Pilau

A flavorful rice dish with beef and hearty vegetables. Recipe included for pilau masala spice blend
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

Spice Mix (Pilau Masala)

  • 1 tsp clove
  • 2 tbsp cumin seed or 2 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp black peppercorn seeds
  • 12 cardamom pods or 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Rice Pilau

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 5 potatoes cubed
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 red onions thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp ginger minced
  • 1 hot pepper finely chopped (I used jalapeno)
  • 1 tbsp pilau masala
  • 2 beef stock cubes see below
  • 4 cups water or beef stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1lb beef sirloin cubed
  • 3 roma tomatoes diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

Pilau Masala

  • Combine whole ingredients if using and place in pan on low heat. Allow to roast until fragrant.
  • Place all ingredients in a grinder and combine. You will likely have leftover seasoning- you may save this in an airtight container.

Rice Pilau

  • Heat a stock pot on medium-high heat. Add oil and allow to heat. Add onions and fry making sure to brown, but not burn them. This can take 10-15 minutes
  • Add in pepper, ginger, and garlic allowing to cook until fragrant. Then add beef, spice blend, beef stock cubes (if using), cilantro, bay, and salt. Mix well and cook until beef caramelizes. Make sure to stir often, cook 8-10 minutes.
  • Add in tomatoes and cook until their liquid has been released, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Stir in potatoes and water (or broth) bringing mixture to a boil. Stir in rice and cover reducing heat to low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
  • Mix all ingredients well and serve!
Keyword Kenya, Kenyan, pilau, rice

(115) Kenya Day 1 – Kenyan Beef Curry

Kenya, an African country known for its incredible wildlife -a safari hot spot. Nestled beside Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Indian Ocean, this country is chalk-a-block full with national parks and wildlife reserves. The country is also well known for the world’s fastest runners, the great wildebeest migration, and Kitenge culture.

Source: kuoni.co.uk

Kenya is a big exporter of tea and coffee. Interestingly it is thought that Kenya has no “national dish.” Due to the 40+ native tribes there are several special dishes that are thought to represent these diverse communities. Common staples of the Kenyan diet consist of grain (maize, sorghum, and millet), rice, greens, grilled meats, fish (in coastal regions), and local vegetables. Stews are a very common meal to have on a regular basis along with ugali (maize polenta).

Today I made a traditional Kenyan curry with steak, it can also be made with chicken or goat. Similar to Kenyan stews, tomatoes, onions, and garlic are core ingredients.

I opted out of the the more authentic pairing of ugali because I have had unsuccessful attempts at making polenta/porridge that tasted good and naan bread is 👌Curries and stews traditional pair with ugali which is key to soaking up alllll the goodness! Cooking was a breeze, the slow cooking of the curry allows the flavors the develop.

Our first Kenyan meal was a power house dish full of pleasant spice and refreshing cilantro. The flat bread paired well with the dish and absorbed the curry which had a tomato dominant flavor. And if it couldn’t get better the meat was also very tender, perfect! We rated this one 9.5/10 🔥

Kenyan Beef Curry

Paige
This is comfort in a bowl with just the right about of spice!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 lbs sirloin steak chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tbsp oil for cooking
  • 2 medium red onions diced
  • 1 16oz can tomatoes diced
  • 2 tbsp paprika smoked for more depth of flavor!
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp curry powder or more 🌶️
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt to taste
  • 1-2 fresh chilis/hot peppers sliced for garnish (I used jalapeno)
  • 1/2 cilantro bunch roughly chopped

Instructions
 

  • Add the 4 cups of water to a large pot and bring to a boil. Mix in the beef, garlic, and ginger allowing to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove pot from heat and drain liquid, reserve broth for later. Set beef aside as well. Add the pot back to the stove and add cooking oil changing temp to medium heat. Add in the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add canned tomatoes to onions and cook for another 3-5 minutes until the tomatoes soften. Mix the beef back into the pot along with the remaining spices and tomato paste. Combine ingredients well.
  • Add the broth back into the pot and add any additional water needed to cover the beef completely. Bring mix to boil then turn down to a simmer for 1 hour. Make sure to stir frequently.
  • Once the beef is cooked through you can do your final taste test adding any additional seasoning you find necessary. Garnish with peppers and cilantro. Serve with rice, ugali, or naan bread.
Keyword African, Beef, Beef Curry, Curry, Kenya, Kenyan

(110) Luxembourg – Brun Lapskaus (Brown Stew)

Source: audleytravel.com

Today’s dish is from Luxumbourg, a small European country which is encompassed by France, Belgium, and Germany. It is known for being a very wealthy country due to its banking, industrial and steel sectors. Although it’s smaller than the state of Rhode Island it is full of historical forests, castles, and caverns.

The cuisine reflects its’ neighboring countries and immigrants from Portugal and Italy. Fresh water fish, beef, and poultry are commonly seen in their cooking and are considered a very important part of the meal. Many staple dishes here have root vegetables and potatoes, today’s dish is no different!

Today’s recipe was difficult to find. For whatever reason finding a more authentic dish of Luxembourg posed as a challenge, I was able to find this to try. I also found it seasonably appropriate and great for when you’re snowed in like I am currently- under 2 ft of snow! The tender beef is the show stopper here and complimented by a medley of vegetables.

The preparation and cooking was pretty simple. I opted to bring more color to the dish by purchasing the rainbow carrots and generously garnishing the stew with parsley. There’s tedious chopping, but in this dish it can be overlooked as the complexity is low.

We thought the stew was lovely and had a mild sweetness from the butter. The parsnips and carrots had flavors that stood out among the rest. The parsley lightened our palates and the stew. Overall it was a well rounded wholesome stew that was well seasoned, it was rated 8.25/10.

Ireland Day 2 – Irish Beef and Guinness Stew

Oh how beautiful a fresh pot of stew is on a cold night (that was the case we had this meal). Irish Guinness Stew is a classic and is comparable to France’s Boeuf Bourgignon (which you can find here).

The origins of Irish stew were thought to contain mutton otherwise known as older sheep. Due to its tougher consistency it was cooked for long durations of time, otherwise known as stewing or the nowadays slow cooking! According to Alan Davidson, a food expert/historian using neck or shank meat on the bone was thought to add more flavor. The very first stews primarily was made up of mutton, beef, or lamb, potatoes, and onions.

Over time other hearty veggies and herbs were added along with the well loved Guinness stout. The stout of course is characteristic of Ireland, the alcohol evaporating over time during the stewing process. The contribution Guinness brings is unmistakable. Another way to really pack in flavor is by browning the meat and scrapping any stuck bits from the bottom of the pot.

The recipe Ian used can be found here. He thought the recipe was straight forward and was enjoyable to see all the elements come together.

Ian served up a very hearty stew full of rich flavors and a variety of vegetables. The flavor was more “complex” and allowed for the perfect opportunity for bread dipping.. if only we had bought bread 🤷‍♀️Either way it got high marks with 9/10!

(100) Honduras – Enchiladas Hondureñas

Pulhapanzak Waterfall, Honduras. Source: wildfrontierstravel.com

Our 100th country can be found in Central America bordering El Salvidor, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Honduras also borders two bodies of water- the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. Honduras can be translated to “great depths” and was named this by Christopher Columbus due to the great depths of the ocean along its shore. The hieroglyphs of the Mayan ruins in Honduras have given the most information of their history. The Copan Mayan ruins in particular have the most intact hieroglyphs which hold the most value. The country’s flag has 5 stars which represent all Central American countries, the center star representing Honduras. Honduras is a hot travel destination due to its rich history, tropical forests, and gorgeous coast lines.

The cuisine of Honduras is a combination of several influences including Spanish, African, Caribbean, and Mesoamerican. Coconut and coconut milk are largely used with cooking. Corn, beans, and rice are other staples found often at the heart of a meal accompanied by local produce such as sweet potato, tomatoes, carrots, and cassava to name a few. Another key component to Honduras cuisine is the meat- cue Arby’s commercial “we have the MEATS.” Beef is the most commonly prepared meat, with others based by region such as seafood by the coast. Due to the high rates of poverty in the country beans are often substituted when meat is not available or affordable. Some of the popular dishes of the country include tamales, pupusas, bean soup, chilaquiles, and enchiladas which we will be making today.

The Honduras enchilada is not like the typical Mexican enchilada, it differs not only by its presentation but also its filling. These enchiladas are often seen as a breakfast dish and are served in an open format vs rolled. The only clear similarity is that both use tortillas as their base! If you are intrigued by a new way to have “enchiladas” click here.

Cooking the Honduras enchilada involves several steps and layers. For this particular recipe it called for making a sauce from scratch then cooking the meat, potatoes, and eggs. While I prepared this it made me feel like I was having breakfast for dinner, what a delight! Don’t forget to fry the tortillas before you build these little masterpieces! I will say though my sauce wasn’t as thick as I would have liked and leaked through which effected crispness of the tortillas.

We found these breakfast treats very savory and can see why they would be a solid way to start the day. This open faced format did make it challenging to eat especially with the juice soaking through. I also probably should have made the lettuce more finely shredded to make it easier to enjoy. Overall they were really good and worth 7.5/10.

That’s 100 countries guys can you believe it!? We have learned so much about the world of cuisine and it has given me more insight to what kind of food I enjoy which has been surprising. I can’t wait to serve up more traditional dishes and discover new favorites. Maybe you will discover a new favorite dish yourself!

(91) Argentina – Matambre

Hey guys, here’s a little Christmas present to close out the year! I’m sorry I’ve been absent the past few months life has been busy!

Patagonia, Argentina. Source: lonelyplanet.com – Jkboy Jatenipat

Argentina was our next travel destination- home of marveling landscapes, mouth-watering meats, and tantalizing tangos! The name of this large South American country translates from the Latin word argentum to silver due to the land’s plentiful minerals. Pictured above is the well-known Patagonia, a true adventurers dream which is a region found at the southern most tip of South America (also part of Chile). The Andes divides the two countries and makes the landscape more extreme. Found in rural areas you can find traditional gauchos. Gauchos are Argentinian cowboys that like American cowboys have distinctive dress which includes wool ponchos and sombrero or bolero hats. These cowboys are known for their bravery and skill with livestock. Speaking of livestock.. lets talk about the traditional Argentinian fare!

Argentinian cuisine has heavy European influence (Spain, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries) and consists of meats (mostly beef), grains, fruits, and vegetables. With agriculture being a substantial part of the country’s culture beef and other livestock products are found in much of their cuisine. On the 29th of every month you can find many Argentinians eating gnocchi with money under their plate. This easy to make meal is thought to bring good luck and fortune in the following month.

The meal I decided to prepare is called matambre or stuffed flank steak which literally translates to “hunger killer” so I think this will leave you satisfied. Traditionally to make this dish you will use flank steak or a butterflied thicker steak which you cover in a chimichurri sauce which contains cilantro, parsley, garlic, olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper. Other versions of this dish can include carrots instead of peppers, its up to you! Next, place then add a layer of bell peppers and hard boiled egg before rolling and securing the meat with twine or unflavored floss. The preferred method of completing the dish involves grilling the meat until it reaches the desired doneness of your liking. This recipe for matambre can be found here.

Due to the time of year and our grill being finicky I cooked it in the oven at 400 degrees. This recipe was pretty easy to follow and used common ingredients. I typically have twine on hand which works well to contain the meat and maintain a somewhat uniformed meat roll. Make sure to not be stingy with the chimichurri sauce as this pairs well with the meat.

This dish made me obsessed with chimichurri sauce- I didn’t even know I was missing out! If you wanted to be “extra” you could totally do this as a breakfast meal, but the steak sits a little to heavy for me. Unfortunately, the meat cut I had used was a bit tough in areas and due to its thickness took longer than anticipated to cook. All the elements rolled up well together and brought a solid dinner to the table. We rated Argentina’s dish 7.25/10.

(87) Chile – Pastel de Choclo

Atacama Desert, Chile. Source: Wanderlust Chloe

Time to get back to blogging- today we traveled to Chile for our 87th country. Chile can be found on the Western border South America and is the closest country to Antarctica. It has an impressive coastline along the Pacific Ocean (4,000 miles) and neighbors Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina. Chile is home to unique landscapes besides its extensive shoreline-the Atacama Desert nestles between the Andes Mountains and ocean and is the driest place on Earth. There are parts of the desert that have never experienced rain! Off the coast of Chile (about 2,100 miles away) is Easter Island, once a sheep farm is now a tourist destination with incredible caves and lava tunnels. Have you packed your bags yet? When you visit maybe you’ll pick up the native dance “cueca” which mimics the courting ritual of a hen and rooster -that’s no chicken dance!

Chilean cuisine clearly has a lot of Spanish influence, but it also has other European influences like German, Italian, French, and English. Like Europe, Chile is a large producer of wine making it in the top ten. Common ingredients used in Chilean cooking include maize, onions, cumin, beef, beans, poultry, coriander, wheat, and potatoes.

Pastel de Choclo is a layered dish of ground meat and onion, hard boiled eggs, chicken, and corn. It is traditionally cooked in a clay dish inside a wood-burning oven, but of course no access to that here so an mini electric oven will have to do.. The recipe can be found here.

So I underestimated how long it would take to cut the corn off the cob. Props to cooks that do this on a regular basis, it is not fun! I of course appreciate the fresher taste but man there was corn everywhere when I was finished!

A tip for anyone wanting to try this recipe is use your food processor (blender works too) to get a thicker consistency of corn. Mine was not as crusty as I would have liked and I think this would have helped.

Oh Chile I tried.. The flavors were all there but I didn’t achieve that crispy corn crust on top. It was a super meaty dish which was really nice with the cooked corn. Despite the mishap it was very yummy. It had some shepherds pie vibes (of course without the potato). The basil was seasoning I would never think to pair with corn but it works! We rated it 7.5/10.

(88) Taiwan – Niu Rou Mian Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Welcome back to The Messy Aprons, a place where you can travel by taste buds! Today we are heading to Taiwan to try a fiery dish.

Taipei, once home the tallest building in the world. Source: Architect Newspaper (Francisco Diez/Flickr)

Taiwan is situated in the East China Sea south of Japan and South Korea, East of China. It is slightly larger than Maryland/ half the size of Scotland. Only 3% of the population is native to the region, the vast majority being Chinese. Because of this a lot of their culture is influenced by the Chinese. Taiwan sits in the “ring of fire” which makes it very prone to earthquakes. There is controversy over the current status of Taiwan and depending on who you ask the answer could differ. As far as I know some see Taiwan is independent from China, others say they are a providence of China and also referred to as The Republic of China. Nonetheless Taiwan is a beautiful place with unique buildings, wildlife, and noteworthy cuisine.

Taiwanese cuisine as some may have guessed has heavy Chinese and Japanese influence filled with the savory flavors of soy sauce, sesame oil, cilantro, and chili peppers (to name a few). As most countries do they take advantage of local resources such as seafood which is the primary protein of their diet. Rice often is at the root of the meal. Today I made a spicy noodle soup known as niu rou mian.

The dish has roots in China, however it was brought from China to Taiwan by refugees that fled China after the Chinese Civil War. Prior to this beef was not eaten on the island due to lack of resources and it was once illegal to kill cattle in China. Taiwan even has a saying that roughly translates to “don’t eat beef and dog and prosperity follows; eat beef and dog and hell is inevitable.” 

So back to this dish.. this hearty yet spicy soup has a bone broth base (which was not included in this recipe- this cuts down the cook time) that gets its spice from several ingredients besides the chili bean sauce. Over time ingredients are added to form a savory soup that warms you inside and out. The recipe can be found here.

I did not have the rock sugar (substituted brown sugar) and I couldn’t snag chili bean paste in any of the local stores so I used leftover Thai chili sauce instead. This fast paced recipe over all had no mishaps, prepping ahead of time is always a way to prevent skipping steps as you go. Ian’s mouth was watering the whole time, he is a sucker for ramen-esque foods!

This was spicy enough to be noticeable, however the broth was insanely savory. The beef was nice and tender, but the bok choy should have chopped up finer. Like ramen eating this dish was a little tricky (we are not chop stick savvy) but found a big spoon helped us slurp it all down. We thought the dish was worthy of 8/10 average.