If you spend enough time in Scotland, you're likely to run across stovies. This will not happen in any fancy restaurant, but more likely in a pub or similar place where they're serving good commonplace food -- stuff to fill you up, keep off the Hebridean damp, and keep the pints or the whiskey company. Sometimes the stovies will be accompanied by oatcakes, as in the picture to the right, taken at a Scottish ski resort.
Stovies are a leftover dish, and there are probably as many recipes for them as there are families in Scotland. But the basic concept is simple. Cube or chop up your leftover cooked meat (beef from the Sunday roast, sausages, what have you), saute it briefly with onions and part-cooked potatoes, and let the dish finish on the stovetop, developing an attractive and yummy crust.
There will be those who get all tangled up in word history and insist that the name of the dish comes from the French étouffée, "to steam". But despite Scotland's many ancient connections with France, that seems unlikely. The name more likely simply refers to what you cook the dish with, or on.
Click on "read more" for the recipe.
For the stovies:
- About a pound of leftover cooked meat, chopped up: usually roast beef or sausages (but other meats work well too)
- About three pounds of potatoes, peeled, chopped into 1/2-inch dice or thereabouts
- 1 large onion, sliced thin
- Fat for frying. If you're actually getting your meat from a beef roast, the dripping / fat from the roast works best. Otherwise, use lard, oil, even butter.
- Small amount of beef stock, between 1/4 - 1/2 cup (from a bouillon cube / stock cube if necessary)
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, saute the onion in the fat. Add the chopped meat. Saute for a little longer, until the onions are coloring nicely: then add the potatoes and the stock and stir well. Season with pepper and a little salt (assuming that your stock isn't already too salty: if it is, don't bother about the extra salt).
Cover the pot, turn down the heat, and allow to cook gently on the stovetop for about 30 minutes. Shake the pot occasionally to prevent sticking. When the potatoes are done enough (test one with a knife or fork to be sure), turn up the heat for a short time to allow the mixture to brown underneath. (You may like to turn some of the mixture over so that it browns on both sides.)
Serve hot, with oatcakes if desired.