Sweet potato, turkey and nettle stew

Ah you can’t beat a good stew when you are ravenous. This one is quick & easy to make – it’s also low-calorie to boot.

Ingredients (enough for one short, slightly chubby, middle aged dude)

  • A large sweet potato
  • A large carrot
  • A palmful of turkey mince
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 large mushrooms
  • A clove or two of garlic
  • A good bunch of freshly picked newly sprouted nettle leaves
  • A stock cube
  • Seasoning if you fancy it
  • A Splash of veg oil for frying

Method:

  1. Once the stove is going, get some water on straight away in the billycan.
  2. Start peeling & then chopping the sweet potato & carrots aiming for small, bitesize chunks. Add to the billycan along with the nettle leaves.
  3. Bring the veg to the boil & then tilt the lid to prevent the pot boiling over & subsequently extinguishing the stove (believe me, that is seriously bloody annoying). Simmer for 8-10 minutes before taking the billycan off the heat – the residual heat will continue to cook the veg.
  4. Put a frying pan onto the stove, add a splash of oil & fry-off the turkey mince.
  5. Finely chop the shallots, garlic & mushrooms & add to the mince, frying for a few minutes until all are nice & caramelised (not burnt though).
  6. Take the frying pan off of the heat & put the billy back on – bring back to the boil.
  7. Check that the veg is cooked by squashing a chunk with the back of a spoon against the billycan, then pour out (& try to retain) some of the cooking liquid.
  8. Crumble half the stock cube into the billycan & stir to coat the veg.
  9. Add the contents of the frying pan to the billycan (or vice-versa). If the mix is too dry, just add some of the retained liquid to loosen.
  10. Season to taste & enjoy.

Common-sense notes

Food poisoning can be seriously grim at any time, but even more so out in the wilds. It tends to be caused by harmful bacteria that enters our digestive system – either on our food or in our food. So carrying unrefrigerated, raw meat with us to cook out in the wilds, can present us with a few issues – especially on warm days.

When I am cooking out in the wilds without an adequate source in which to wash my hands, I try to employ a ‘no-touch’ policy for raw meat. I loathe plastic packaging, so at home I decant whatever I need into my Zebra billycan, my MSR kettle, or a small, Triangia mess-tin with lid. This way I can either cook the meat in the transporting pot (poaching, for example), or I can safely transfer the raw meat onto a pan or grill & then decontaminate the transport pot by boiling water in it – to make a brew for example. For todays jaunt, I carried the raw mince in the small steamer dish for the Zebra billycan, which I emptied directly into the frying pan. The steamer dish was decontaminated using the boiling liquid from the veg – the hot spud water finally being used to douse the embers at the end.

As a general rule, heating food until the very centre of it is 80 degrees centigrade or above, tends to kill most organisms. So if you haven’t got a temperature probe in your kit, then you will have to rely on good, old-fashioned common sense to advise you. For meat, we tend to see if it is done or not by the presence of blood. When meat is being cooked, the blood inside the meat is basically being boiled, so logically, if the meat is red, the blood is uncooked, if the meat is pink, the blood is being cooked & if the the meat is brown (can be very light or very dark depending on the animal), the blood has been cooked. So as the meat (blood) cooks, at about 70 plus degrees centigrade, water & fat (clear juices) will start to seep out (render).

One trick I did learn as a chef to test if meat was hot enough, was to cut it open & touch it with a clean, dry finger – if it burns your finger, then its hot enough.

Food poisoning bacteria such as Clostridium perfringens can also be present in soil & rotting vegetation, & although theoretically the cooking process will kill any bacteria located on the skins of root veg, it is still a good idea to scrub & scrape, or peel to remove dirt residue from your spuds or carrots prior to chopping. No one enjoys chomping gritty carrots. Be mindful of any implements that might come in contact with the ground during prepping – knives & spoons, etc. Scrub & scrape any visible debris off & then immerse into boiling water to decontaminate.

Food

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