Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with ChorizoNo matter what I do, when I cook meat in the slow cooker (aka the crock pot), it becomes wooly and all the delicious seasonings I have added become dull, dull, dull. On the other hand, I love the texture and flavour of meat slow cooked in the oven or braised on the stovetop. Perhaps the sealed environment of the slow cooker which is essentially slow boiling the meat over a very long period of time, relegates the proteins and the seasonings to a pappy, bland insipidness. Perhaps oxygen and evaporation play a crucial role in the flavour and texture stakes. I don’t know but what I do know is that there are millions of people out there who do make it work and work well – there are some fabulous sounding recipes out there and many a crock pot devotee as a quick search on Pinterest will confirm. Nonetheless, I cannot make it work for me. I have tried “roasting” a chicken in it, braising brisket and stewing meat. I’ve used it to make stock and flavoured legumes. I’ve adjusted cooking times, reduced liquid, increased flavourings and spices – all to no avail. Everything just tastes dull; no matter how much I try and adjust the seasoning after the cooking, I just cannot rescue the texture or the flat taste.

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo | Selma's TableThat being said, what I do like is how well it cooks dried legumes like chickpeas and butter beans without the need to pre-soak or watch that the pot does not boil dry. I chuck together the beans, bay leaves and water just before going to bed and in the morning, the beans are soft, juicy and plump, ready to be sauced for supper that evening.

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo | Selma's TableBut, I hear you say, why bother when you can get tins of the stuff in practically any corner shop and grocery store? Well, the texture and the flavour is much, much nicer when cooked from dry. I find the liquor in the tins tastes tinny and have to rinse the beans very well indeed before using them. Having said that, I always have a couple of tins in pantry as they do come in very useful for those last minute meals but if I have the time, I much prefer to cook them from dry.

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo | Selma's TableI would suggest that the first time you make these, you do them during the day, when you are likely to be around to check on the water in the crock. I have found that the measurements below are perfect for my crock – the beans cook and soak up just enough water, leaving perhaps a cup of thick liquid that has not been absorbed and is just perfect to thicken the sauce with.

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo | Selma's TableThe chorizo sauce is just delicious!! Lemony, tangy, spicy and rich – do, please take the time to caramelise the onions slowly – you can get on with something else in the kitchen for the 10 minutes or so that it will take for them to slowly turn a golden brown. They lend such a depth of flavour to the sauce. And of course you can use the contents of 2 very well rinsed cans of butter beans instead and just use water where the recipe calls for bean cooking liquid. If you don’t have a slow cooker and want to use dried beans, then cook the dried beans, according to the manufacturers instructions on the pack which usually involve soaking them for 8 hours and then simmering them for one or two hours afterwards.

Spicy, Slow Cooked Butter Beans with Chorizo

INGREDIENTS

  • 250 g dried butter beans
  • 650 ml water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • salt
  • 1 cooking chorizo sliced into ½ cm rounds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ – 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp smokey paprika
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 large tomatoes diced
  • handful chopped parsley

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Either the day before or at least 9 hours before you wish to eat; place the dried butter beans and bay leaves in the crock, top with water cook on low heat for 7 – 8 hours. I don’t find it necessary to add any salt or baking soda. The beans will become plump and tender, having soaked up most of the water.
  2. An hour or so, before you wish to eat; heat the olive oil in a pan and stir in the finely chopped onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Take time to cook them slowly to get that deep flavor from the caramelised onions.
  3. Stir in the sliced chorizo and the spices. Let this cook gently until the oil turns orange from the chorizo.
  4. Add a ladle of the bean cooking liquid, stirring to deglaze the pan by scraping any sticky bits off the bottom. When it has evaporated, stir in the tomato paste and the diced tomato. Stir and add another ladle of the bean cooking liquid, when it has evaporated, add a final one. There shouldn’t be much liquid left in the beans – try and get as much of it into the chorizo mixture to evaporate. If you don’t have much liquid left in the beans then use water instead.
  5. Stir in the butter beans, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Simmer gently for half and hour to allow the flavours to blend and any excess liquid to evaporate.
  6. Just before serving, stir in the parsley.
  7. Serve with rice, a dollop of greek yoghurt and a sharp green salad.

Left overs are even better the next day!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Summer Pasta Salad with Chicken and Broad Beans

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beansI spent a glorious weekend on the stunning and historic South Downs in Sussex. A friend had been planning a surprise birthday party for her boyfriend since January – it was a big one and to say that she pulled it off would be an understatement! How Lucie managed to not blurt out anything and also plan the timing on the Friday so that everyone was at the venue as she walked up (slowly) with Adrian from the pub, (as cars full of late guests whizzed by them) is a testament to her resolve and organisational powers! Factor in no mobile phone signal at the venue, guests arriving late from London on trains who needed collecting and you can imagine some of the problems that needed to be surmounted.

Riverdale House, AlfristonLucie’s parents, Richard and Judy, own and run a beautiful Victorian Bed and Breakfast, Riverdale House, in Alfriston. It’s set in quintessential English gardens and overlooks the South Downs from the front and the Cuckmere Valley to the rear. Beautifully presented with the most comfortable bed I have EVER slept on, crisp white sheets, plenty of  fluffy white towels, lots of toiletries in the bathrooms, tea/coffee making trays in each room, a flat screen TV, a fridge and lots of room to unpack and hang up your clothes – it is a world away from the stereotype of English B and B’s! If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen some of the photos (one of which was liked by Bear Grylls – imagine!!) I was posting when the Wifi kicked in .

IMG_8795Richard and Judy are absolutely lovely – they could not have been more hospitable and welcoming. They left us to it after Richard had cooked the main course on Friday, giving us the run of the house for the weekend.  So on Friday evening, after surprising the the birthday boy, we had few glasses of champagne  on the front lawn, admiring the view and catching up with everyone, before repairing to the dining room which was set up for a sit down dinner for 14 people. I had made a chicken terrine the night before in London, for the first course. The second course was sea bream with seafood pasta, cooked by Richard, which was absolutely gorgeous. Lucie had been to France and brought back wheels of cheese, which she stacked up like a 6 tier cake and lit up with candles. There was this amazing chocolate mousse cake with a hazelnut wafer base from a patisserie in Brighton which is one of the best things I have ever eaten! I normally pass on the pudding course as I prefer cheese but not this time – I missed out the cheese entirely!

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beansA barbecue was planned for Saturday evening for which Catherine and I were making the salads. Catherine had an adorable little helper, Emily who is 5, and they made the most delicious potato salad which Catherine’s grandfather used to make. She also make a couscous salad: a celery, chickpea, feta  and cumin salad; an orzo salad with rocket, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and pesto plus a garlicky tzatziki and  pita chips flavoured with rosemary. I marinated a couple of chickens; boned a leg of lamb, butterflied and marinated it (and was quite proud of my boning efforts which gave rise to plenty of  bawdy comments) and made a pea, spinach and feta salad with a lemon, mustard and garlic dressing as well as a grated courgette and mint salad, dressed with lemon, olive oil and garlic. No danger of vampires that evening!

Alfriston VillageSunday morning was spent pootling around picture perfect Alfriston Village followed by a quick lunch and then very reluctantly we were London bound.

IMG_8937My homecoming was brightened up by the sight of a parcel from Essential Cuisine who have sent me some stock powders to try out and review. A rummage in the fridge and the cupboards provided all the ingredients necessary for a lovely summery pasta salad over which Jake and I caught up on each other’s weekend news and prepared for the week ahead.

I used some of the Essential Cuisine Chicken Stock to season and flavour the pasta salad and have to say that it is absolutely delicious – seriously full of rich, deep chicken flavour and as it is a powder, it dissolves and blends in quickly and perfectly. It is also low in salt, has no artificial additives or preservatives and is  gluten free. Each 96g pot makes about 8 litres of stock so it is really very good value too.  No more sticky, hard, salty stock cubes for me – this stock powder is quite special and I am so looking forward to cooking with it. If  you are in the UK, do take a look at the Essential Cuisine HomeChef website – it is full of really useful tips and recipes and you can also purchase the stock powders directly from them. Their range includes Veal, Fish, Lamb, Beef, Chicken and Vegetable.

(Disclaimer – Although I was sent the stock powders to try out, these views are entirely my own.)

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beans

summer-pasta-salad-with-chicken-and-broad-beans

Summer Pasta Salad with Chicken and Broad Beans

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • i medium white onion, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 100 g of spanish chorizo, sliced into ½ cm chunks
  • 1 courgette/zucchini sliced into half moons
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 300 g of dried pasta – I used penne
  • The podded beans from 10 pods of broad beans
  • 1 tsp Essential Cuisine Chicken Stock Powder mixed with 100 ml of hot pasta water
  • 4 Tbsp of olives – I used a mix of green and black
  • 200 g of left over roast chicken, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • A bunch of basil, torn or sliced
  • 1 fresh mozzarella ball, sliced  or torn into chunks

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  Fill the kettle and put it on.
  2. Set a large shallow pan over a medium flame and heat up the oil. Add the sliced onion and let this soften for a couple of minutes. Stir in the chorizo and let this cook for a minute or so, just long enough to start releasing those smokey paprika oil. Stir in the courgettes and leave for a couple of minutes to caramelise before stirring to turn them over and caramelise the other side.
  3. Fill a large saucepan with the just boiled water and let it come to a boil again. Add a good measure of salt and tip in the pasta. I like my pasta really, very al dente so for dishes where the pasta will be stirred in to finish cooking with the rest of the ingredients, I normally cook it for 6 minutes. In this case, I set the timer for 3 minutes after the water had come back to a boil once the pasta had been added and then added the broad beans and set the timer for another 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, fish out the broad beans and then drain the pasta reserving some of the pasta water.
  4. While the pasta and beans are cooking, stir in the cherry tomatoes, the chicken and the olives to the chorizo and courgettes. Add the stock and give it a good stir.
  5. Add the drained pasta and stir this in to coat with all the lovely pan juices, adding a dash of reserved pasta water to bring it all together.
  6. In the meantime, pinch and squeeze the broad beans out of their skins and stir these into the pan together with the basil.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. There is plenty of flavour in the chorizo and the stock and there is salt in the pasta water so taste before seasoning…
  8. Top with fresh mozzarella cheese and serve.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Shakshuka – (Eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce)

shakshuka-eggs-poached-in-a-spicy-tomato-sauceStating the obvious, I know, but weekends are just made for leisurely breakfasts and brunches. Whether meeting friends at a bustling cafe or making something at home, brunch is one of my favourite meals just because it feels so indulgent and decadent in comparison to the usual Monday to Friday grind.

I watched Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean Feast when it first aired a couple of years ago (Dec 2012) and  was struck by the warmth and conviviality that he encountered whether shopping in a market, researching in a backstreet or cooking in restaurants with fellow chefs. The food ranged from traditional to modern and always so fresh – it was a fabulous series. (If you are in the UK, click on the link to take you to Channel 4OD to watch the series.) One dish that really caught my fancy was Shakshuka, a Tunisian dish of eggs, poached in a spicy tomato sauce which he dished up in Tel Aviv under the watchful eye of “The King of Shakshuka”. I’ve been making it ever since…

shakshuka-eggs-poached-in-a-spicy-tomato-sauce

My version is not as spicy and lends itself to being easily converted to a vegetarian meal by omitting the chorizo or merguez sausages and substituting these with mushrooms and red peppers. This recipe is so tasty and so simple to make that I hope it will become a firm favourite in your weekend meal repertoires.

shakshuka-eggs-poached-in-a-spicy-tomato-sauce

shakshuka-eggs-poached-in-a-spicy-tomato-sauce

The eggs are poached…

shakshuka-eggs-poached-in-a-spicy-tomato-sauce

I am taking these over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #18 which this week, is being co-hosted by Justine@Eclectic odds n sods and Mr Fitz@Cooking with Mr Fitz . With these two party animals in charge, it is going to be a blast!! Justine has been at the champers since the get go and Mr Fitz has been brandishing those super sharp knives of his when things threaten to get out of control…do take a look at their blogs – you are sure to find much to amuse at Justine’s and much to envy at Mr Fitz’…

Angie’s Fiesta Friday is attended by the warmest, most supportive and incredibly creative bunch of people that it has been my pleasure to (virtually) meet. Do take a look at the entries for inspiration and if you blog, feel free to join in. Not only would Angie, Justine and Mr Fitz welcome you with open arms but so will the crowd!

Read the guide lines here – http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/fiesta-friday/

Join the party here – http://thenovicegardener.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/going-vegetarian-for-fiesta-friday-18/

Shakshuka

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 banana shallots or one medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 75 g chorizo or merguez sliced into ½ cm chunks (or use mushrooms and red peppers for a vegetarian option)
  • 1 tsp tomato paste/puree
  • 1 tsp Harissa paste (adjust this to your palate and substitute with ½ tsp of chilli flakes if you don’t have any Harissa)
  • 1 can of tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dry roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • ⅓ can of water
  • 4 large, preferably  organic/free range eggs
  • handful of chopped coriander/cilantro leaves (I also used some snipped chives)
  • Greek yoghurt and flat breads or sourdough toast to serve

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet, over a medium low flame.
  2. Gently sauté the shallots until they have softened and coloured which should take about 4 – 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and the chorizo or merguez and sauté for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring from time to time to cook all sides. I add a splash of water to the pan if I think it’s going to catch and burn.
  4. Add the tomato paste and the Harissa to the pan, stir, and let the rawness cook off for a a minute or so.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, smoked paprika, cumin seeds and thyme leaves and ⅓ of the (tomato) can of water. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any delicious caramelisation that will have occurred and let this bubble away , uncovered, for between 5 -8 minutes, reducing to a thick chunky sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  6. In the meantime, heat up the flat breads or make the toast and set the table…
  7. Make 4 indentations in the sauce and crack an egg into each one. Cover  the pan and turn down the flame to low and cook for between 3 – 5 minutes. The time taken depends on how “done” you like your yolks, how thick or thin the base of the pan is and how hot the element is, so do check on the eggs after the initial 3 minutes are up.
  8. Scatter over the coriander leaves and serve immediately with a dollop of yoghurt and lots of warm flat bread to scoop up the delicious sauce.

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.