Simple pleasures

Haricot again on my own

Now the Christmas tree has been cut up and put in the bin by the dead of night and the year gently settles into itself, I find myself staring out timidly from the duvet, slightly scared of the outside world.

The fondue set has also been put back into storage; it is a dish we only get round to on new year’s eve. This time we had thin cubes of beef fillet tail and dipped them in hot melted butter, loaded with grated garlic or a punchy, herb-laced olive oil. A game of Jenga later and we were all tucked up in bed well before Big Ben bonged.

It’s now back to more normal meals, things we can leave to bubble in a pan for an hour or two, or cook gently in the oven on the weekends behind the scenes for use midweek  while trying to find socks for school tomorrow.

In that vein then, here is a comforting bean dish that is rich, easy and nourishing. There is no need to soak the beans overnight, cook them from dried for an hour and a half, they are more flavoursome and equally as tender. You could, if you prefer, use tinned, cooked haricots, making this even quicker and easier to bring together and perhaps something you would make on a cold January Wednesday.

For this recipe, I used the stock I’d made from the chicken left over from Saturday’s lunch of pot roast chicken which I’d cooked on leeks, garlic, lemon and onions. A good few handfuls of cubed leftover ham went in and then to serve it, I made a roux, loosened it with the juices from the chicken and blended in a little double cream. It was rather like a chicken, leek and ham pie without the pastry, and none the worse for that. In the past, with equal success, I’ve used on of those little gel stock pots. Whatever you’ve got.

You can have this with a quickly seared and caramelised pork chop, on it’s own pretending you’re a cowboy, or like we did this week with some shredded savoy cabbage, buttery and sloshed with lemon juice and pepper. There was a howling wind that night, and this is real food for those dark winter evenings of which we still have quite a few ahead.

100g haricot beans
500-600ml boiling water
1 celery stick
1 medium carrot
1 small onion
100g chorizo
180ml chicken stock
2 fresh bay leaves
Parsley to serve
Salt and pepper to season

Put the beans straight into the saucepan of boiling water with a little salt and simmer gently for an hour and a half. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t boil dry. Most of the liquid will be absorbed by the end. You can leave them to cool and use later, or keep refrigerated for the next day.
Cube the chorizo, quite small, and fry in a sauté pan on a fairly gentle heat until the rust orange oil comes out. Add the bay leaves.
Finely dice the celery, carrot and onion and add to the pan. You could blitz them in the food processor if you prefer, but I like to chop by hand, to be a little more connected to the food. There are enough machines in our lives, if you’ve got time to go on Facebook, you’ve got time to chop an onion. And to be honest, I’ll let the machines do the rubbish bits like washing up.
Stir well and cook gently until softened. Season a little and cook gently for about ten minutes.
Add the beans and stock, bring to the boil and then simmer for about five minutes before serving with a good amount of black pepper and chopped parsley.
If there is any left, you could serve it for lunch the next day with a crisp fried egg, the yolk mixing in to be scooped up with a good slice of toasted and buttered bread.

This week
: ‘Mindhunter‘, a ’70s precursor to ‘Criminal Minds, but without the gore. ‘Little Women‘ completely charming and emotional. I felt like I’d watched the entire series of Dawson’s Creek in three hours. In a good way. The Miniaturist, which was beautiful to look at; Les Oubliées, a ten year old French ‘policière’ on All Four, a little depressing, but we’re waiting for the new series of ‘The Bridge’ to start so need something European.
Read: ‘Quand sort la recluse’, ‘Oor Wullie’ and ‘The Broons’. Quality.
Listened: ‘Kiss you all over‘ by Exile, ’70s ridiculousness; France Gall, another French treasure buried; Creedence Clearwater Revival, perfect for a steamy winter kitchen.
Eat: Plenty of risotto which then turned into mini arancini the next day. I also made a huge vat of chilli with thinly sliced brisket and some pork chops with a huge layer of fat on. We eat this with a pile of homemade corn tacos and all the trimmings. Another day there were meatballs in tomato sauce with strips of red pepper sautéed and charred with garlic, rosemary and spring onions and a pile of cubed and quickly sautéed courgettes with yet more garlic. Good, real food.

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