Saturday, January 09, 2010

Don't be mean with the beans, mum

There are them folk who plan ahead and soak dried beans in water overnight for meals the next day. And there are others, like me, who say stuff that for a game of soldiers and open a tin. Whichever you are, here's another game I play with my slow cooker. You'll need:

  • A tin of small beans, or at least smaller ones than the ones in
  • A tin of big beans. I find that a mixture of haricot beans with cannelini or brolotti beans is good; red kdney beans paired with butter beans gives you an entirely different, but still good, result
  • As much garlic as you want
  • A big onion
  • A red sweet (bell) pepper
  • One of those carrots you were going to give to a donkey
  • A big red tomato, or a couple of little ones (those big black Crimean heritage tomatoes are great for this if you ever grow them)
  • Dried chili - if you're a chili poseur like me this will be a dried ancho and a dried chipotl; if you're a normal human being it's be a tablespoon of chili flakes; if you're really a normal human being it'll be a teaspoon of chili flakes
  • A couple of fresh chilis; jalapenos or Hungarian wax peppers work best, but go along with your heat tolerance
  • A lime
  • A teaspoon of sweet paprika (plus a teaspoon of smoked paprika if you want)
  • Some tomato puree
  • Dried oregano, and/or thyme if you want; winter savoury is good if you've got it
  • Ground cinammon

Singe the skin of the peppers (including the chilis) over a flame, enough to make it blacken and bubble slightly. If you're really fussed you could skin the thing if you want, but if you were that fussed you wouldn't be following my recipe anyway. Deseed and chop roughly.

If you're using whole dried chilis you'll want to chop them roughly, too.

Finely chop the garlic, onion and carrot and sweat them in a frying pan with some olive oil. You want to be softening and only very slightly colouring the onion. Now add the pepper. Give it all a stir, warm through then transfer the lot to the pot of the slow cooker.

Drain the tins of beans and put the beans in the pot. Add a can-full of water. Grate a bit of lime zest into the pot then add the juice of the lime (heavily rolling the lime on a worktop will release a lot of the juice). Chuck everything else except the oregano into the pot with a bit of salt and pepper then stir the pot. I like the combination of cinammon and tomatoes so I put a few shakes of the jar (barely quarter of a teaspoon) into the mix. Cook on low for an hour then add some dried oregano.

Give it another hour and see how it tastes. I like this with rice or couscous, or spooned onto tortillas with a bit of grated cheese.

Variations? Endless. Mushrooms, fresh and/or dried are good. Green beans finely cut into discs the thickness of a coin add interest. Corn, barley, cracked wheat, all tried and all are splendid. Committed carnivores would add some chopped salami to the pot. A big sprig of rosemary stuck in at the beginning changes the dish entirely.

Visiting friends in the States I once picked up a jar of pickled watermelon rinds. These are excellent; sweet, unctuous and with a slight spicy bite to them. They worked brilliantly in this dish, adding a depth to the sauce as well as another texture.


savannah said...

thanks for the vegie meal tip, sugar! last night while polishing of the last of her slab of standing rib roast, miss daisy informed me that she really wasn't a meat lover (could have fooled me) so, she'll be eating beans for a while! xoxoxo

Jimmy Bastard said...

Can it be deep-fried by the way?

Kevin Musgrove said...

savannah: kids, eh?

Jimmy: actually... yes. A friend is both Glasgwegian and a Cordon Vert cook. One day after an excess of teasing, she deep-fried patties of refried beans and very nice it was, too.

Madame DeFarge said...

Can you have it with chips too?

willow said...

Now what am I going to give to the donkey?

Kevin Musgrove said...

Madame DeF: course you can dear

Willow: I'll tell you when you're older