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Economy Gastronomy TV Series Recipes - Episode 1

Economy Gastronomy TV Series Recipes

Economy Gastronomy is a 6-part TV series first aired in August 2009 and September 2009. Two celebrity chefs: Allegra McEvedy and Paul Merrett show families how to reduce their food bills, but still eat the food they like and keep the high quality.

The series is billed as the Cook's Answer to the Credit Crunch.

The programme starts by looking at how much they are spending, what they are buying, what they are eating - and they are presented with an Economy Gastronomy binder of recipes to work to that week. The first thing the families on Economy Gastronomy have to do is write out their shopping list and go shopping, if it isn't on the list, they can't buy it.

Bedrock Recipe: Basic Mince Mix

Economy Gastronomy Recipes: Bedrock Recipe: Basic Mince

Economy Gastronomy Recipes: Bedrock Recipe: Basic Mince

The method that Economy Gastronomy uses is to cook one main meal which they call the Bedrock Recipe, the remainder of which is re-used throughout the week in what they call Tumbledown Meals.... or leftovers as we'd usually call them!

The series is accompanied by a book, containing all the recipes from the series as well as hundreds of other meal plans to work to. The book is called: Economy Gastronomy - Eat Better and Spend Less and is written by Allegra McEvedy and Paul Merrett, the stars of the series.

The Economy Gastronomy recipe book is fully illustrated in colour and a full 320 pages in hardback and can be bought from Amazon.

Economy Gastronomy Celebrity Chef: Paul Merrett

Paul Merrett owns and runs a restaurant and pub in Sheen, called the Victoria Pub and Dining Rooms.

Paul Merrett has been awarded a Michelin star on two occasions - the highest award a chef can receive for outstanding cooking, and he is the author of Using the Plot: Tales of an Allotment Chef (2008).

He was a presenter of BBC Two's Ever Wondered About Food... series, and co-presented a BBC Two ten-part prime-time series called The Best.

Paul Merrett is married with two children.

Economy Gastronomy Celebrity Chef: Allegra McEvedy

Allegra McEvedy co-founded Leon, an award-winning healthy, fast-food restaurant group.

Allegra McEvedy was awarded an MBE in 2008 for services to the hospitality industry.

Allegra is the Resident Chef of the Guardian’s G2 section, and also writes a blog column for the Observer Food Monthly.

Economy Gastronomy is her third book, her second book being Allegra McEvedy’s Colour Cookbook, which won the IACP 2007 Cook Book award.

Allegra McEvedy was born and educated in West London, where she still lives.

Week 1: The England family from Derby Who Spend £220/week on Food

The first family in the Economy Gastronomy series are the Englands, from Derby. Addicted to takeaways, they were spending a whopping £220/week on takeaways and ready meals. This week they have a budget of £130, saving them £90/week.

Bedrock Recipe:

  • Braised Mince

Tumbledowns and Other Meals:

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  • Chilli con Carne in a Tortilla wrap
  • Bolognaise
  • Hotdog Hotpot
  • Bran & Banana Muffins
  • Deep Fried Chicken
  • Tomato Topped Macaroni Cheese with Artichokes and Lardons.
  • Navarin of Lamb

All the recipes are in their book, but they're not generally available online. If you manage to watch the programmes you can usually hear most of the ingredients and method, but they have deliberately left out a lot of the detail ... so you buy the Economy Gastronomy book of course :)

During the programme, this week's expert tips were about chillies and cheese.

Economy Gastronomy: Bedrock Recipe - Basic Braised Mince Mix

In the first week, the basic, bedrock recipe, was braised mince. The initial braised mince mix is further split down over the week, to produce three separate meals for 4-people each time. In the programme they don't tell you everything that it's used for, you have to buy the book or guess :)

Bedrock Recipe: Braised Mince

  • 1Kg minced beef
  • 3 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 beef stock cubes
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce


  1. Heat a large saucepan and add about half of the vegetable oil
  2. Add the onions, garlic and herbs to the pan and allow them to cook on a high heat for a few minutes, until softened. Once soft, turn off the heat and put the pot to one side.
  3. Heat up a large frying pan with a a little of the remaining oil, fry the beef mince - you might need to do this in 2-3 batches if it's a bit much for your frying pan. Fry and stir the mince until it's browned all over. .
  4. Tip the mince into the saucepan with the onion mix. Mix them all together and put the saucepan back on the heat.
  5. Empty the can of tomatoes into the saucepan and stir into the meat.
  6. Add the Worcestershire sauce and 1 litre of stock (stock is made using the stock cubes and 1 pint of boiling water). Stir well.
  7. Simmer for about 1 hour, uncovered, until the stock has reduced.
  8. Separate into 3 portions - each one will now give you a basic mince mix to use in three separate meals for four people. You can fefrigerate or freeze the mix. It will keep fine in the fridge for 3-4 days if in a lidded carton.

Three Tumbledown Recipes From the Braised Mince:

  1. Cottage pie - simply top 1/3rd of the main mix with mashed potato and a sprinkling of cheease and bake in an oven at 200 degrees for about 25-35 minutes. You could also add grated or sliced carrots into the mince mix, or even peas, or any other vegetables you have lying around that need using up.
  2. Bolognaise sauce
  3. Chilli con carne (shown below)

Tumbledown: Chilli con Carne

Economy Gastronomy Tumbledown Recipe: Chilli Con Carne

Economy Gastronomy Tumbledown Recipe: Chilli Con Carne

Tumbledown Recipe: Chilli con Carne

One of the tumbledown recipes from the basic braised mince mix is chilli con carne.  This uses 1/3rd of the large batch of braised mince you cooked, to produce a meal for 4 people. 

The details and measurements of these recipes tend to be glossed over in the programme, but you can usually get them right still - and everything's a matter of taste, so experiment a bit!

Tumbledown Recipe: Chilli con Carne

The secret of this recipe is to do it in a wide pan if you have one.

  1. Place a little bit of olive oil in a pan, throw in some chopped onions and chopped garlic.
  2. Add a teaspoon of chilli powder, a touch of cumin, some ground coriander and a teaspoon of smoked paprika.
  3. Add some red wine (a large glass). Let it reduce.
  4. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes, splash of Worcestershire sauce.
  5. Chop a few chillies and put those in.
  6. Add two large handful of chopped mushrooms.
  7. Add 1/3rd of the previous braised mince mix.
  8. Pour in some beef stock, probably about ½ pint to start with - you can always add a bit more later if it wasn't enough.
  9. Chuck in a tin of kidney beans.
  10. Place this on a gentle heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

To Serve:

In the programme demonstration kitchen they simply took a tortilla wrap, spread some of the chilli mix on and rolled it up.  When the family cooked chili con carne they served it with plain boiled rice.

You could also serve this with some garlic bread, or even cheese bread.

Tortilla chips also make a great side dish to serve with chilli con carne.

Economy Gastronomy Expert Tips: Chilli and Cheese

In one part of the Economy Gastronomy TV programme, they have some short tips videos from experts.  This week's experts gave tips for chillies and cheese.

Expert Tips:

Rather than buying chillies, buy a chilli plant for the windowsill or counter top - and simply pick a chilli when you want one. This is much cheaper, they're always fresh - and a single plant can produce up to 300 chillies in a year.

Keep cheese rinds and use them in stocks, or as a base for macaroni cheese. Don't throw them away, most of the flavour is in the rind.

When you buy cheese, take it out of the cling film and wrap it in greaseproof paper, then keep it somewhere cool, not in the fridge. Put it into a tupperware box with a tight lid and you can store it anywhere cool, outside, in the garage, in a shed. Stored like that it will keep longer.

At the end of the programme, they cook a dinner party for guests, who are arriving in three hours, using only what's already in the house and a budget of £2.50 for each guest. This week's menu was:

  • Vegetable Tart with Cheese Topping and Salsa Dressing
  • Topside of Beef with Roasted Vegetables and Gratin Dauphinois
  • Beer Battered Banana Fritters with Ice Cream and Toffee Sauce

Although recipes aren't readily available online, where they exist I've added the links to the links list a bit further down the page.

I hope you enjoyed this hub.

Allegra's Top Tips for Basic Essentials:

Good oils

  • Basic oilive oil - use for any kind of cooking, it's better for you than sunflower oil
  • For Asian cooking, use sesame oil - it gets a high burning temperature
  • For dressings, you want extra virgin oil, spend about £10/litre.
  • Absolute basics are red wine vinegar and white wine vinegar.Use in sweet and sours.
  • Balsamic vinegar is it's over-powerful and over-used.  A sherry vinegar is better, it's lighter but has depth and flavour.  Good in Spanish cooking and for anything mediterranean.

Gastro-Pub Food - Navarin of Lamb

Navarin of Lamb: Neck of lamb with blanch-fried fresh vegetables

Navarin of Lamb: Neck of lamb with blanch-fried fresh vegetables

Paul Merrett: Navarin of Lamb

Each week Paul Merrett shares some of his great gastro-pub favourites.  This week it's Navarin of Lamb, a hearty peasant stew.

  • Neck of lamb is used, this needs a long, slow, tender cooking
  • Cut the lamb up into small cubes
  • Flour the lamb - this will colour the lamb and thicken the sauce.Make sure it's well coated and put it straight into a really hot pan. 
  • Let it sit there caramelising, turn it until it's all coloured. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Don't clean the pan. Add more oil, add chopped onions and a whole head of garlic.  Allow it to soften gently.
  • Add white wine and allow it to reduce, 5-6 minutes.
  • Add some fresh thyme and fresh rosemary
  • Add tomatoes and reduce
  • Add a lamb stock or a light chicken stock
  • Put the lamb back in the pot, the stock should just cover the lamb.
  • Once it's simmering allow it to simmer for at least an hour until the sauce has finished thickening. Just stir it occasionally
  • Serve with all the different vegetables you have in the fridge at that time. Just blanch them off in a fresh frying pan, then serve on top of the lamb.

Economy Gastronomy Recipe Book


henriette on May 28, 2012:

please i would like to see this tv series ,but i can\t find them anywere, please can you help me

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