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.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's Table

When you see the timeline on this recipe, you are going to laugh and say who has 3 days to make a loaf of bread?! The truth is that you barely spend any time on it yourself – the wild yeast is doing all the work for you. As I mentioned in my post on Fruited Sourdough, it’s all about deciding when you want to bake and working backwards from there. I start the process on a Friday afternoon to bake on Sunday morning. The long, slow cold proofing allows the flavours to mature and take on even more of that distinctive sour, sourdough taste.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableI bake my bread in an lidded enamel roasting dish. Baking it like this, creates steam so that the crust doesn’t become so hard that the loaf cannot expand and rise in the heat. This bit is referred to as oven spring. Slashing the dough helps with  creating a good oven spring too.  If you don’t have a lidded pot then, bake on a sheet/pizza stone but pop a small tin of ice cubes or water into the oven to create that steam. The lid is removed halfway through baking and I am always childishly surprised and in wonder at how much the loaf has grown and split open in that time.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's Table

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableI don’t know about you but I really struggle with counter space – I just seem to have so much out on it but that’s just the way I am. If I put things in a cupboard, they tend to shuffle off to the back and lie forgotten. So, when it comes to stretching and shaping dough, rather than clear away appliances and bottles of oil, I use a large stainless steel tray – it’s portable and so easy to clean. As an added bonus, the dusting flour/semolina etc is contained and doesn’t get everywhere! Stainless steel is really easy to work on too. Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableSo, if you have sourdough starter of your own or had some from Celia or me, give this method for Wholemeal Sourdough, a go!
Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf | Selma's TableAlways start with a bubbly bowl of starter. Following Celia’s advice, I take out ¼ cup of Twinkle (my starter) from the fridge at 1pm, feed her ¼ cup each of bread flour and filtered water, followed by ½ cup of each at about 4pm. By 8pm, Twinkle is bubbly and ready to go!

Set a large mixing bowl on the scales and add the ingredients, re-setting to zero between ingredients. Wholemeal is a dry thirsty flour, so you may need more water. Start with 300g first and add more if you need it. Squelch them all together and leave to autolyse for half an hour. Then stretch and fold a half dozen times, cover and leave to prove on the worktop, overnight. The following morning, stretch and fold the dough again and this time place in the fridge to prove for 24 hours. On Day 3, shape the dough, let it have a final short proof on the worktop and bake.

Wholemeal Sourdough Loaf

  • Servings: Makes a 500 g loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
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INGREDIENTS

  • 150 g of bubbly starter
  • 300 – 320 g of room temp or cool filtered water
  • 250 g of organic wholemeal bread flour
  • 250 g of organic strong white bread flour
  • 9 g of fine salt
  • olive oil
  • fine semolina or rye flour
  • poppy seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

Day 1 Evening

  1. Use a large mixing bowl and set it on the scales, re-setting to zero between additions.
  2. Tip in 150 g of bubbly starter.
  3. Then add 300g of the filtered water. (Start with the lesser amount first – you can always add a little more if the dough is too dry.)
  4. Measure in the bread flours.
  5. Add 9 g of fine sea salt.
  6. Squelch it all together with a clean hand until it is well mixed. This shouldn’t even take a minute. Add a little more water if the dough is too dry. Wholemeal is a thirsty flour! Scrape all the floury bits off your hand and back into the bowl. (I’ve been using latex disposable gloves – very little sticks to them.) Cover the bowl and set the timer for ½ an hour for the dough to autolyse.
  7. When the half hour is up, stretch and fold the dough, inside the bowl, 5 or 6 times. Clean the bowl  then smear some olive oil in it and place the dough inside, seam side down. Cover and leave out on the worktop, overnight.

Day 2 Morning

  1. In the morning, the dough will be bubbly and have doubled in volume at least.
  2. Dust the work surface (I use a large stainless steel tray) with fine semolina or rye flour (white tends to stick) and gently scrape the dough out, onto it. Repeat the stretch and fold a half dozen times. Place seam side down in a large oiled bowl, cover and place in the fridge.

Day 3 Morning

  1. The next morning, the dough will have risen and is ready to bake. You could even leave it in the fridge for another day for the flavours to develop.
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 240/250C – as high as it will go.
  3. Dust the work surface and gently scrape the dough out, onto it. There is no need to punch down – you want to keep as many of those bubbles in the dough as you can.
  4. Pull the outside thirds into the middle, then turn it over so that it is seam side down and shape it as you wish. Try and pull the outside of the dough as tightly as possible to get a good gluten coat which will hold it’s shape well.
  5. Oil some cling film and cover the dough on the worktop for about 45 minutes to an hour, for the final prove. The dough should warm up a little and also expand. If your kitchen is really warm, it may only take half an hour – so keep an eye on it, setting the timer as this is the only proofing that should NOT be over done.
  6. Then, after it has finished the final proofing, remove the cling film, and sprinkle generously with poppy seeds.
  7. Slash the top of the dough and place it in a lidded **enamel roaster/dutch oven. Cover with the lid and place in the oven. Turn the heat down to 220C (fan assisted) and bake for 20 minutes.
  8. After 20 mins, remove the lid and carry on baking for another 20 mins. Check to see if the bread is done by tapping it on the underside – it should sound hollow. If you like a crispy crust, then place directly on the oven rack and bake for another 5 minutes. Otherwise, remove from the pot and cool on a wire rack.

**If you don’t have a lidded pot, you can, of course, bake the bread on a baking sheet/pizza stone. In that case, place a few ice cubes/water in a small tin and put this in the oven to create the steam that baking in a lidded pot does.

© 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.