Around the world in Comfort Foods
With the weather outside getting colder, there’s only one thing on our minds – comfort food. It seems like every country and culture has their own take on a carbo-loaded winter-warmer dish for when the mercury plummets. Join us on a culinary adventure as we tour the world in search of the ultimate comfort food. If you’re feeling inspired – or just plain hungry – all these dishes are perfect for cooking with gas.
While many cultures from all over the globe have a dish that’s reminiscent of the humble pierogi, we think that Poland has perfected the art of the stuffed dumpling. With a history that stretches right back to the 13th century (if you believe the myths), it’s no surprise that Poles consider the pierogi to be their national dish.
The small parcels of dough can be stuffed with a whole array of delicious fillings. For a traditional approach, try mixtures of cheese, ground meat, cabbage, and mushroom. Or, if you’ve got a sweet tooth choose a filling of forest berries topped with sweetened sour cream.
The secret to the perfect pierogi? Boil them for a few minutes before finishing them with a quick pan fry over a gas flame on high.
Japanese Katsu Curry
The katsu curry is a delicious mix of two dishes – breaded pork and English-style curry ¬ that are both Japanese interpretations of western-style foods. Curry was introduced to Japan nearly 150 years ago by the British, while Tonkatsu (crumbed pork cutlet) was created in Tokyo as a riff on European meat preparations.
Together, the two create a harmony of flavour that’s greater than the sum of their parts. The crunch of the pork is complemented by the deep richness of the curry roux, all sitting atop a soft bed of short-grain rice. It’s the perfect dish to cook up for a big night in.
Italian pizza with potato and rosemary
When it comes to hearty food, nobody does it like the Italians. Just thinking about their classic dishes warms the soul. If you’re aiming to double-down on cold weather comfort, look no further than the traditional pizza con patate e rosmarino (pizza with potato and rosemary).
Layer thinly sliced potatoes on fresh dough before topping with Parmigiano-Reggiano and woody rosemary dipped in olive oil. To get that perfect balance of pillowy dough offset by a crisp crust at home, make sure that you crank your oven to the highest heat it can muster.
If you’re saddled with an electric oven, don’t fret. Adding a pizza stone or pizza fire box to your gas BBQ will deliver impressive results – just crank the burners all the way up and close the lid. If you find yourself reaching for the pizza tray on a regular basis, consider investing in a dedicated natural gas pizza oven to really elevate your slices.
Americans tend to take their BBQ seriously, and nowhere more so than in Texas. If you fancy yourself an aspiring pitmaster, you can try your hand at cooking a low and slow brisket (the ultimate BBQ cut) at home over gas.
But good things come to those who wait, and Texan BBQ is no exception. To achieve that signature smoky flavour, soak wood chips in water overnight before adding them to the grill and slow cooking your brisket for 10–12 hours over a low flame. You need to allow enough time for the collagen fibre in the meat to break down, giving the brisket it’s characteristic melt-in-your-mouth softness. Convert your BBQ to natural gas and never run out of fuel, so you can enjoy these tasty dishes every day of the year!
When it comes to Texan BBQ, it’s all about letting the natural flavours of the meat shine – so be wary of overdoing it with marinades and sauces.
UK Shepherd’s Pie
Despite the name, you don’t have to tend to sheep to enjoy a traditional shepherd’s pie. The origins of this dish are a hotly disputed, but everyone agrees on its essential components – a mixture of ground lamb (not beef, that’s a cottage pie) and winter vegetables in a crust that’s topped with mashed potato.
While it’s a simple recipe, the shepherd’s pie is a delightful winter-warming favourite that conjures images of log fires and full bellies. One tip for perfecting your pie, make sure you place your baking dish on the lowest rack of the oven when cooking.