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.

Tomato & Chard Crostata with Barber’s Cheddar

Slow Roasted Tomato & Chard Galette with Barber's Cheddar Cheese | Selma's TableCharlie Barber is by all accounts, a pretty good cook. I wish I had to thought to ask him more about what and how he likes to cook but quite honestly, last week at the BBC Good Food Show, I had cheese goggles on and only had eyes for the cheese – that judging room for the World Cheese Awards is my idea of heaven! Those of you who know me, know how much I LOVE cheese – my favourite course at any dinner is the cheeseboard; I love having people round for a meal because it gives me an excuse to buy some extra special cheese. One Christmas, I remember eating far too much of the preceding courses and couldn’t manage a scrap of cheese. I was so cross with myself – we had bought some gorgeous cheeses that year.  Anyway, when Charlie threw down a challenge to come up with a recipe using my local produce and their delicious Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar, I wasn’t going to refuse!

Slow Roasted Tomato & Chard Galette with Barber's Cheddar Cheese | Selma's TableI’ve been wanting to make one of those free form open crostatas for some time with a lovely flaky, buttery pastry;  pastry and cheese is always delicious so there was the start of the recipe. Our veg box (CSA) from Sutton Community Farm, is full of seasonal produce which has been grown locally without the use of pesticides. I had some of their beautiful late season Rainbow Chard that was begging to be used as well as some of their onions.

Chard, onions and Barber's 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar

Chard, onions and Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheese

I also had some large slicing tomatoes from the local greengrocers but they would need to be roasted, low and slow to get rid of a lot of their moisture. The tomatoes may have been a subconscious thing because Elaine had tried some sundried tomatoes from one of the many small producer food stands at the Good Food Show and said how delicious they were…Slow roasting them this way really intensifies the tomato flavour and is great way to treat tomatoes that may not have the flavour they should. I like to make batches of them and store them in oil to use in sandwiches, pasta dishes and sauces.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes | Selma's Table

Slow roasting the tomatoes

I love tarragon with tomatoes and it goes well with the earthiness of beetroot too. Chard is a member of the beet family so it seemed like a natural combination. Nonetheless, before I added in the tarragon, I conducted a little taste test with a spoonful of cooked chard, caramelised onion and a sprinkle of cheddar just to make sure and it did work really well together. That aniseed flavour does not appeal to everyone so replace it with rosemary, thyme or even basil if you are so inclined.

Slow Roasted Tomato & Chard Galette with Barber's Cheddar Cheese | Selma's TableThis recipe is best made over two days. Slow roast the tomatoes, caramelise the onions and make the dough on the first day. The smell of the slowly roasting tomatoes and caramelising onions will drive you and anyone else around, mad with unrequited sensory hunger so I suggest having something strongly flavoured to snack on! On the second day, sauté the chard, roll out the dough then assemble and bake the crostata.

Layering galette | Selma's Table

Layering galette

The pastry is a basic shortcrust pastry using half fat to flour, a pinch of salt (I used vegetable stock powder to give it a more savoury flavour) and just enough iced water to make it come together. The trick is to cut the cold unsalted butter into quite small cubes with a small sharp knife and put these back into the fridge. The butter needs to be really cold so that you can rub – well, slide really,  the butter between your fingers, into the flour and into flakes without it melting. Stir in the iced water a little at a time. Once the dough has come together, wrap it in cling film and pop it in the fridge overnight or for at least an hour.

A very flaky shortcrust pastry | Selma's Table

Making the dough

Roll it out between two sheets of baking paper using one of the sheets to transfer it onto the baking sheet. This produced a really seriously flaky pastry that even Jake commented on.

A very flaky shortcrust pastry | Selma's Table

Rolling out the shortcrust dough between two sheets of parchment paper

This crostata is full of flavour with the intensely flavoured slow roasted tomatoes, the caramelised onions, the earthy chard, the aniseed of tarragon and Barber’s superb Vintage Reserve cheddar cheese. It is wonderful as a light lunch or supper dish or as part of a mezze style table.

Slow Roasted Tomato & Chard Galette with Barber's Cheddar Cheese | Selma's Table

I’m taking this Tomato and Chard Crostata with Barber’s Cheddar to the party animals over at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #44. Today she has made some stunning sandwiches with leftovers from Thanksgiving. Only Angie can take a bit of roast turkey and some bread and make it look like something from a magazine spread! Co-hosting today are two of my favourite story tellers –  Prudy @Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs and Jess @Cooking Is My Sport. Their posts are always inspirational, touching and funny. Their amazing recipes are a bonus!!

Tomato & Chard Crostata with Barber's Cheddar

  • Servings: 4 as a main or 6 - 8 slices as part of a tapas
  • Difficulty: moderate
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INGREDIENTS

For the Slow Roasted Tomatoes

  • 600 g tomatoes (cherry, plum, slicing, heirloom)
  • 30ml/ 2Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbps finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt and pepper

For the Caramelised Onions

  • 1 large or 2 medium white onion, finely sliced
  • 30ml/ 2Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • pinch of salt

For the Shortcrust Pastry

  • 160g flour
  • ½ tsp vegetable stock powder or ¼ tsp of salt
  • 80 g cold unsalted butter
  • 3 – 5 Tbsp iced water

To finish

  • 200g chard, leaves and stems
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 Tbsp creme fraiche
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 100 g Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tbsp of milk

INSTRUCTIONS

For the Slow Roasted Tomatoes

  1. Preheat the oven to 100C/200F.
  2. If the tomatoes are large, slice them horizontally into 4 slices. If they are cherry or plum tomatoes, slice them vertically, into halves or quarters, depending on their size.
  3. Place them on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, season and sprinkle with the chopped rosemary.
  4. Roast for between 2 – 6 hours. The time really depends on how much moisture they have and how thick the slices are. My slices took 4 hours. I checked every hour after the first two looking for the slices to be fairly dry but still soft. Once they have cooled off, use a slice to lift them off and place in a bowl scraping the gorgeous concentrated tomato juice and oil off the sheet and over them. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

For the Caramelised Onions

  1. Heat the butter and oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stir in the finely sliced onions.
  2. Stir in a pinch of salt and when the onions are coated in the oil and butter, turn the heat down to low and let this cook down for about an hour. Stir from time to time – the onions should cook down to a pale gold sticky mass. Cool and refrigerate until needed.

For the Shortcrust Pastry

  1. Place the flour and stock powder or salt in a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk well to combine.
  2. Toss the cold butter cubes through the flour to coat them; then working quickly, slide them (as if you were clicking your fingers and thumb) between your fingers and thumb into the flour, over and over again – you want flat, flour-coated shards of butter flakes as well as the usual coarse sand type mixture.
  3. Using a fork, stir in 2 – 3 Tbsp of water. Then, use your fingertips to bring the dough together – handle it as lightly and as little as possible. If you need additional water to bring it together, then add it one table spoon at a time. I needed 4 Tbsp. Keep it in the bowl as you bring it together into a ball – remember to handle it lightly and as little as possible. Press lightly into a disc then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 3 days.

To finish and assemble

  1. Fill the sink with water and swish the chard leaves about. Leave them in the sink for any grit to settle on the bottom.
  2. In the meantime, finish off the onions by stirring through the creme fraiche and the tarragon and set aside. Grate the cheese and set aside. Remove the slow roasted tomatoes from the fridge and set aside. Whisk the egg and milk together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Carefully scoop the chard out of the sink and cut out the stems. I fold them in half along the stem and use a pair of scissors to snip them out quickly. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. While it is heating, slice the chard stems into 1 cm pieces stir into the pan together with the fennel seeds. With lots of water clinging to the chard leaves, roughly chop them. Once the stems have softened a little – 3 or 4 minutes, stir in the chopped leaves, season lightly and let these cook down for about a minute. Then turn off the heat and let this cool while you get on with the pastry.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F.
  5. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of parchment paper, flipping it over from time to time until it is about 30 cm/12 inches in diameter. It will be quite thin. You can also roll it out on a lightly flour dusted work surface (no need to flip) but rolling it out between parchment paper makes the process so much easier. Once it is approximately the right size, peel off the top parchment paper and use the bottom one to transfer it onto a baking sheet, leaving the parchment underneath it.
  6. Leaving a 3 cm/1 inch border around the edge, sprinkle over half the cheese. Spread the onion mixture on top of the cheese and cover this with the cooked chard. Sprinkle over most of the remaining cheese then top with the tomatoes and a final sprinkle of cheese. Drizzle over any oily tomato juices which may have collected then fold over the border, pleating the pastry as you go along. Brush the pastry with the egg wash.
  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the pastry is golden and cooked through. Cool on a rack and serve in wedges, warm or at room temperature.
© 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
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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.