A marrow is really just an overgrown courgette. My father grew them in the greenhouse when I was a child, as did most of my uncles, and the neighbours. A single marrow goes an awfully long way in terms of culinary use so using them up was a bit of a challenge. (Giving them away was not an option as everybody in the village had more than enough already.)
My mum had three principal uses for a marrow; stuffed with sage and onion stuffing then baked and served with chops or sausages, in homemade chutney or, the family favourite, stuffed with a meaty filling, smothered in cheese sauce and baked.
Once my brother and I had flown the next, using up the marrows was more of a challenge for my mother and in autumn every visit I would come away with half a marrow whether I wanted it or not. Which I did, of course.
My dad no longer grows anything at all so I had completely forgotten about stuffed marrow until I found myself looking at a modest sized specimen in the supermarket the other day.
To make stuffed marrow you don’t so much need a recipe as a guide to the concept. Think beef lasagne, bolognaise and a large green vegetable and there you have it. It’s almost a cross between a lasagne and a cauliflower cheese.
I always peel and pre-cook the marrow by putting thick, deseeded rings of it in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes. Then I turn the heat off and leave it in the water to continue cooking while I make the filling and the sauce.
On this occasion I used 500g lean minced beef and made a kind of bolognaise/cottage pie concoction using onions, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, tomato purée, and enough stock to make it thick and not runny.
I placed the cooked marrow rings in a baking dish, spooned the meat mixture in and around them and poured a thick cheese sauce over the top. I also added a few slices of goat’s cheese just because I had it in the fridge and it needed using up.
Bake at 180°fan for 20-30 minutes until browned and bubbling. You can just have it by itself, or with salad or vegetables. A dish like this would easily serve four hungry people. It’s great comfort food for chilly autumn evenings.