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With the winter nights truly upon us and the weather turning increasingly horrible, there’s no better time to indulge in this moreish Scottish classic. You don’t need much in the way of equipment, maybe a slow cooker if you have one. The main thing is patience. To fully appreciate this recipe, things need to gradually reach boiling point over time.

For those of us of a certain age, stovies will bring to mind wonderful memories of grannies’ kitchens saturated with the whiff of this stew. I remember my own granny would gather up all of the slightly sad looking veg leftover at the end of the week and whatever meat was available and chuck the lot into the Big Pot. The Big Pot was like a cauldron where magic took place; it had the power to transform some of the most miserable ingredients into life-giving nourishment.

That’s the big benefit of stovies: you don’t need to be a particularly skilled cook. You can hide a multitude of sins in the thick gravy!


Stovies were one of my late husband’s favourite things to eat. I don’t think a month went by during our marriage when he didn’t ask me to whip up a big vat of the stuff for him. His love for gravy-drenched slice (that’s square sausage to some of you) was legendary, and it was more than apparent by the excess of gut that drooped over his stupid too-tight denims. I don’t miss the touch of that clammy cushion of flab weighing down upon me whenever I was to perform my wifely duties. Or the many other times that the bastard pressed himself on me without invitation.

My husband was a man of passion—for the football, for the horses, for creative prejudices that couldn’t even be semi-excused as those shared by other bigoted men like him. He seemed to have his own take on the world, a singularly nasty and twisted perspective on things. But there are a lot of other bigoted men like him. You might be married to one yourself, in which case this recipe is for you.

The stovies I made for my husband used the cheapest cuts of meat I could find, usually from the reduced bin. Take your time over this part. Forage deep in the fridges to find the slimiest, smelliest, dodgiest looking cuts you can find.


If you’ve read this far and haven’t clicked the “Skip to recipe” button, I applaud you. I often joke with a couple of other food bloggers that nobody ever actually reads our stories; that we could write or confess to anything in these few hundred words above an ingredient list and nobody would ever know. I’m no better, right enough. I skip to the recipe, too. But then I’ve had a lifetime of deferring satisfaction and enduring seemingly endless unpleasantries. I’ve paid my dues, so to speak, and I mean to spend the rest of my life skipping to the good bit.

I’ll say it outright: I killed my bastard husband. I put a handful of Destroying Angel mushrooms in his stovies one night, ten years ago (Google them, I won’t link to anything here). I sat back and watched as he dribbled down himself in a claggy death rattle, keeled over out of his chair and vomited his insides out.

It’s a strange sight, a grown man writhing in distress and pain. It simultaneously makes a baby and a beast of them. I didn’t do much research beyond what I needed to know: vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, liver damage. He had stolen and squandered enough of my precious time and attention over our lives together. I didn’t feel his death was owed any more of it.

I’m not a naturally scheming or vindictive woman, but it’s amazing the things you can learn from these true crime podcasts and books. It’s been a bit of a golden era for offing abusive husbands, I think. If you’re thinking of doing it yourself, I say why wait? Do it now while the going is good. Before people start checking who’s really listening to these serial killer shows. Many men, especially those of my husband’s ilk, don’t realise that the most dangerous person in their life is unlikely to be some other egotistical has-been squaring up to them in the pub, but the person that cooks their meals, washes their drab, stretched clothing, and raises their kids. The people behind the scenes of a life are the ones best positioned to ruin it if they must.

And I have raised that arsehole’s kids. Bought their Christmas and birthday presents, made their packed lunches, sung their bedtime stories, while he fused his backside with the sofa that I picked out.

I was going to wait until the kids were older before I did it. I thought they should be mature enough to deal with the grief of losing a father, but the longer it all went on, the more I worried about my daughter and the example it might set if she saw me settling for what I was given. And I was given it at least one night per week. Twice when his team played, or his coupon didn’t come in.

In the end, they managed just fine without a father. They didn’t miss what they never had in the first place.

These days, when I make stovies, I buy the nice stuff, like slice from my local artisanal butcher, with little black pudding medallions in the centre. It’s something of a treat for me now. It has sentimental value, so I like to make sure it’s as good as it can be.


The night of my husband’s last serving of stovies wasn’t remarkable. I couldn’t tell you what day of the week it was without looking back over obituaries and records and all sorts. On paper, it was a significant, traumatic evening. But for me, it was just another Tuesday or Thursday, only this time it had a happy ending. Had he been out at the pub, or had he been drinking at home? I honestly can’t remember. Either way, there was the tell-tale whiff to his breath when it slithered down my neck and curled under my collar. And his hands had the bloated, clumsy touch of too much alcohol. Or not enough.

My husband thought I was something that would chip away over time with repeated wear and tear—something he could beat into a more acceptable shape. And I mean “beat” in the truest sense. But he was wrong. Every time he raised his hands to me, I was being tempered, honed. And on that particular night, I moved from theory to action.

Fortunately, the kids were out of the house and staying with friends. I was spared the responsibility of trying to muffle and bite back my loud protests against my husband’s actions as I usually had to. The pain and humiliation were one kind of torture, but the idea of my children hearing it through our thin walls was something I could barely fathom. Many nights when I would tuck them into bed, I’d be unable to make eye contact with them in case we traded a silent acknowledgement.

Yet, funnily enough, on that night when I could have been as loud and hateful as I wanted, I was silent. We’re always told that it’s impossible to achieve important things while distracted, with our minds on our dinner. But I was planning this very recipe as I endured his pissed-up punishments.

When he was finished with me, and he slouched from the room, I set to work on his stovies. He’d worked up an appetite with all his exertions.


One thing I do know for certain is that the last thing his watery, piggy eyes ever saw was me. I showed no remorse as I sat by his bedside for two days, watching him twist with a flexibility I’d never have guessed of the lazy arsehole. Of course, it wasn’t quite the way I dreamed it, but then nothing in life (or, I suppose, death) ever is. I fantasised for years about violent revenge, long monologues when I had him at my mercy, sinister torments and so on. But I’m nothing if not a conscientious mother. I had to do something less obvious that wouldn’t arouse suspicion, so that I could still be there for my children. Besides, anybody who knew my husband and his habits and his diets would have expected nothing less than eventual liver failure. The mushrooms just sped things up. To be honest, falling foul of a mouthful of fatty meat was probably his ideal way to go. He deserved worse.

Now that both my children have grown up and flown the coop, I have no fear in confessing to the killing. It felt dishonest to enjoy this second wind I’ve found as a food blogger while never discussing my finest dish. It’s time to come clean.

If you intend to follow my lead, make sure to add only as many of the mushrooms as is required for the desired effect. Don’t be tempted to “over season” the dish. You’re aiming for subtlety. You don’t want anything to be easily traced back to you. Just a small amount right at the start. Make sure to mix them in and give them time to cook through the sauce to mask any strange tastes.


If you’re still here, then I thank you for listening to what I have to say. It’s an experience I knew very rarely in my time as a married woman, and I take it to heart when my words are met with genuine attention.

I think the real test will be to see how long it is before someone comes knocking at my door. Then we’ll know who actually reads these blogs. I almost hope to get arrested. It’ll be proof that one regular woman’s story didn’t go unacknowledged.


And to Josh and Beth: if you read this, or any part of this ever comes to light, I want you to know that your father deserved it, and that you were never to blame. Please don’t take the news too harshly. I would hate for this to ruin stovies for you.


For best results, let the stew simmer for a good few hours. Allow it to bubble away by itself and resist the urge to stir the pot unnecessarily. Try and find some good rustic bread or oatcakes to dip in the gravy, when it’s ready. You don’t want a single drop of your hard work to go to waste.


50g butter or lard
1 onion, roughly chopped
½ turnip (around 400g), peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
200g chestnut mushrooms
(optional) additional handful of Destroying Angel mushrooms
350g slice (square sausage or “lorne” sausage)
350g roast meat (lamb or beef), or corned beef
700g potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
700ml beef or lamb stock
Oatcakes or crusty bread, to serve


1. Heat the lard or butter in a pan. Add the onion and fry until softened. Add the veg* and fry for 5 minutes. Remove the veg from the pan and set aside.

2. Add your meat to the pan and fry off in the residual butter.

3. Add your meat, veg, and potatoes to a large pot or slow cooker and pour over the stock. Season generously and let cook on low for 3-4 hours.

*Consult the ingredients list for full veg break down

Comments (3)

Love this! 🙂

Havent had stovies for years cannae wait to try this

I will make this for my husband this weekend as a well-deserved treat.