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.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken from ‘Slow Cooked’

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableSlow cooking is like waving a culinary magic wand. Cheaper cuts of knife resistant, sinewy meat transform into something silky and tender as they gently burble away in an aromatic bath of your choice. Up until recently, I used my Le Creuset and a low oven to slow cook lamb shanks, stewing beef, brisket and the like. Then a couple of years ago, I spotted a slow cooker in the summer sales and thought how perfect it would be for making dishes overnight or during the day so that there was something gorgeous for dinner to come home to. But truth be told, I haven’t been too adventurous with it; my best thing is making chicken stock in it with the remains of a carcass but that is all set to change with the publication of a new book, “Slow Cooked” by fellow South Londoner and blogger, Miss South, which I was sent to review.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableMiss South has a passion for cooking good food on a very tight budget. She won the Young British Foodies Food Writing award in September 2013 for her blog North/South Food, which she writes with her brother Mister North. She has also written for Observer Food Monthly as well as appearing on The Food Programme on Radio 4. With these sort of credentials, you just know that you are in for a treat when it comes to her book. It is packed full of 200 delicious sounding recipes which cover meat, poultry and fish, soups, vegetables and legumes, cakes, puddings and preserves too, all made in the slow cooker.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableAfter her first few attempts to cook in the slow cooker, Miss South found that the results were watered down as liquid does not get a chance to evaporate so she set about cutting back on the liquid and amping up on the spicing to get the recipes to work.  Recipes like Carbonnade which have mustard croutons pressed into it for the last hour or so; Butter Beans with Chorizo where the dried beans are cooked without soaking. There are some lovely photos at the beginning of the book but none with the recipes themselves, however the recipes sound so good that I didn’t even register the lack of photos.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableHaving tried a few of the recipes in the book, I found that I needed to rev the up seasoning and spicing a little. I’m not sure if that’s a matter of personal taste or if perhaps my herbs and spices lost some of their potency during the extended cooking period but it is just a matter of tasting and adjusting as you go along.

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s TableWe thoroughly enjoyed the results of slow cooking chicken thighs which had been marinated overnight in a mixture of tahini, lemon and garlic. I added a little sumac and paprika to the original recipe to boost it’s flavour and served the juicy shredded chicken in wraps with tzatziki, harissa oil, and shredded lettuce. There are lots of lovely recipes and brilliant ideas as well as some very useful information about the foundations of slow cooking that make this book a must have for anyone who already uses their crock frequently or for those who would like to start. My next stop is the pudding chapter….

Garlicky Tahini Chicken | Selma"s Table

Do take a look at what a few other bloggers had to say about the book and see what they cooked up too. The reviews are on the Happy Foodie site – http://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/articles/the-slow-cooked-challenge

Garlicky Tahini Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Slow Cooked by Miss South who describes this as “a dinner party-friendly take on chicken kebab with garlic sauce.”

INGREDIENTS

  • 12 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 6 chicken thighs on the bone
  • 4 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 – 6 Tbsp water
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • chopped fresh coriander leaves
To serve
  • Wraps/tortillas
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Greek yoghurt or tzatziki
  • 1 tsp Harissa paste, loosened with some olive oil
  • sliced avocados, chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber – optional but delicious

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place the garlic in a small pan of boiling water and simmer for 15 minutes or until soft. Drain and when cool enough to handle, slip the skins off.
  2. In the meantime, remove the skin and any fat from the chicken thighs; slash the flesh a couple of times.
  3. The tahini should be the consistency of pouring cream so thin it out with as much of the water as you need to.
  4. Whizz or pound together the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, sumac, paprika and some salt and pepper. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary then spread it over the chicken, getting into the slashes and leave it to marinate, covered, in the fridge for up to 24 hours. I did mine overnight.
  5. When you are ready to cook, place the chicken pieces and the marinade in the crock  and cook on low for 7 hours. The oil from the tahini bastes the chicken and keeps it really tender.
  6. Shred the tender chicken into a serving dish, discarding the bones. Taste the marinade, adjust the seasoning if necessary and pour this over the chicken and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Note – if you don’t have a slow cooker then you can make this in the oven. Place the marinated chicken and the marinade in a roasting tin and cover tightly with foil and cook for 1.5 hours at 160C. Then remove the foil and cook for another 15 mins until tender and falling off the bone.

Serve hot with warm wraps/tortillas and all the fixings.

Any left-overs, re-heat beautifully.