Homemade baked beans, roasted potatoes, crispy chorizo and a fried egg

Really, I should have titled this post ‘posh bacon, egg, chips and beans’, because essentially that’s what it is. I got home from work this evening and had forgotten to get anything out the freezer (standard) and we don’t have a lot in the house. So it was going to be one of those storecupboard dinners (which often turn out to be the best ones).

I’ve done something similar to this before, roasting the potatoes in a pan with bacon, and cracking an egg over in the last few minutes whilst I cooked some beans. I didn’t have any bacon though, and my husband said he wasn’t a huge fan of the baked-egg-over-the-potatoes thing. So I thought I’d mix it up, and to make it a bit less lazy-looking I thought I’d make some beans myself since they’re so easy and much more tasty (read: garlicky).

If I hadn’t been messing around doing other things as well (more on that tomorrow!) this dinner would have been really quick, effort wise. Everything takes a little while to cook but you can chill out while that’s happening. I guess the fact that I was cooking up something else in the interim is a testament to how little effort the actual dinner is!

A few words about chorizo before I continue. I LOVE chorizo, but what I don’t love is that if you put chorizo IN things it just makes everything taste of paprika and, I think, becomes overbearing and actually makes everything taste boring and samey. It also defeats the point of spending any effort on the other ingredients since it all just ends up tasting of chorizo anyway. So to prevent that, I decided to cook the chorizo separately until crispy because I wanted the texture, and I decided to give it a bit of a Jamie Oliver-style flourish and twist the slices of chorizo up so they got really crisp on the edges. It worked perfectly! Obviously if you’re less adverse to paprika-overload than myself, you could just chop up slices of chorizo or pieces of a chorizo sausage, and add it straight to the beans.

Now, on with the recipe.

Homemade baked beans, roasted potatoes, crispy chorizo and a fried egg

Serves 2

Beans

1 carton or tin cannellini beans, liquid drained but NOT rinsed

1/2 onion

1 or 2 cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicky you like it!)

1 tablespoon oregano

Around 200ml passata or chopped tomatoes

Olive oil

 

Either 2 handfuls of new potatoes or two larger maincrop potatoes, cut into 1.5cm chunks

15-20 slices of chorizo (I had a pack of 15 slices) or a chorizo sausage cut into chunks if you’re putting it in the beans

2 eggs

Oil for frying

Method

First, finely chop the onion and soften it in a pan with some oil. Add the crushed garlic and the herbs, and season. If you’re using chorizo sausage, add it to the pan now and fry it off for a few minutes and let it give off all its flavoured oil. Add the drained beans, stir everything together and then add the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and then put in the oven, heated to 200C.

After the beans have been cooking for 10 minutes, put the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Drizzle with oil and put into the oven with the beans.

After 20-30 minutes the potatoes should be looking golden and the beans should have thickened nicely. Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan and get it nice and hot for the eggs. Meanwhile, if you’re using the slices of chorizo, fold them in half and then half again, and and sit them on a baking sheet (I lined mine with foil for ease). Put the chorizo in the oven to crisp up, and after a few minutes, fry the eggs.

Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, just assemble everything and tuck in!

Return of the barbecue beans: cornbread topping

Remember when I made this post about barbecue beans, I said I was going to serve them with a barbecue pork tenderloin and cornbread muffins? Well, I had planned to cook this for our friends who came to stay this weekend.

I couldn’t remember which Nigella book the cornbread muffin recipe was from (I hadn’t made them for literally YEARS), so I took a guess at Feast. I looked in the index for cornbread, and there was no cornbread muffin recipe there, but there WAS a recipe for chilli with a cornbread topping. I thought this sounded much better than the muffins (and would be easier to eat as part of a finished dish) so I made sure I had all the ingredients.

When it came to making it, the recipe specified the amount of ingredients for a ‘very large pan’, as the chilli recipe was to serve around 30 people. I was making the beans in my Le Creuset 20cm casserole, so I decided to half the mixture after thinking that something double the size of my casserole would be pretty large.

So I made the batter and spread it on the top of the beans and grated the cheese on top. When I took it out of the oven it had risen to the top of the pan, which was slightly suspicious as the beans had barely half-filled it. When we cut into it I could instantly see my error – the cornbread was about 5 inches thick, and to top that it had absorbed a lot of the sauce from the beans (obviously this is why they say never try anything you’ve not made before when you have guests!). BUT, despite these setbacks, it was really tasty and the cheesy topping was particularly good. In future I could half the mixture again and probably still have some to spare. I grossly misunderestimated how much the polenta would swell on cooking.

So, below is the recipe as it appears in the book, in the correct quantities for a VERY LARGE pan. You can reduce accordingly.

Cornbread Topping

Serves A LOT OF PEOPLE

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

650g cornmeal

4 tablespoons plain flour

6 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

750ml buttermilk

4 eggs

2 teaspoons honey

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

150g Cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

The method couldn’t be simpler – you just weigh out the dry ingredients and put them into a bowl. Whisk up the wet ingredients and then combine the two to make a thick batter.

Spoon (or dollop) this over the top of the beans and then grate over the cheese. Put into an oven heated to 220C for about 20-30 minutes until it’s risen and golden on top. Enjoy!

Barbecue beans

As we have been blessed with this amazing weather for the past week or so now, it seems only natural to have assumed that barbecue season is upon us, so I decided to organise a family barbecue as a kind of easter get-together. We even bought a new barbecue as our old one has started to rust through, so now we’ve upgraded to a super-duper beast of a barbecue with temperature gauges and everything! I was super excited about it and was preparing the food all afternoon, and then literally 15 minutes before we were going to start cooking, a huge black cloud blew over and we got a thunderstorm. TYPICAL. Luckily though we managed to wheel the barbecue and the tables and chairs underneath the archway that goes through to our drive, so with the help of a few candles and some strategically placed vehicles blocking the wind and rain whistling through we made the best of it in what I think would generally be described as “true British fashion”. Nevertheless, the barbecue was fun and the food was good (not that I’m biased in the slightest!).

So, as far as the food went, the meat was just standard barbecue fare: chicken, sausages, ribs and kebabs. I wanted something a bit different to the usual sides though, and was sort of trying to go a bit tex-mex on the theme. I coated the chicken in a barbecue marinade, and had corn to go on the grill. So I decided to serve some barbecue beans with it, as they were something I could prepare ahead without much trouble. As it happens, they were delicious and I wouldn’t think twice about making them again. In fact, I’m planning on serving them with a pan-fried pork tenderloin with a smoky honey glaze, corn bread muffins and corn on the cob later this week. YUM. Total soul food. Anyway, the recipe…

Barbecue beans

Serves 4 as part of a main course, or at a barbecue to serve around 7 people as an accompaniment to other things (there were 9 at my barbecue and really I should have used another carton of beans)

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 red pepper, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed (I used garlic puree)

2 cartons cannellini beans (I buy the cartons of organic beans, but you can use tinned or soak your own, I think they’re around 400g per carton)

1 sachet smoky barbecue fajita spice mix

Around 400g passata

Olive oil

Heat some olive oil in a pan and finely chop the red onion and red pepper to roughly the same size. Fry them in the oil until they’re soft. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so.

Drain the beans of most of their thick water, but leave some around the beans to thicken the sauce (i.e. don’t rinse them). Add them to the pan and mix with the vegetables.

Sprinkle over most of the sachet of spice mix and fry for a few minutes, making sure everything is coated.

Add the passata and bring to the boil. Simmer for around 30 minutes or until the sauce is thickened or transfer to a low (~140C) oven for a couple of hours.

The mixture can really sit around as long as you need it to. I had my oven on lower and left the beans in there for about 3 hours, and they were cooked and kept warm until I needed them. Obviously if they get a bit thick add a splash of water or some more passata to thin them down. Serving them in the cast iron casserole meant that I could have even put them on the barbecue to keep warm if I’d wanted, but the cast iron did a good enough job of retaining the heat as it was, so they stayed warm while they lasted!

I shall be posting what I made for dessert tomorrow. Watch this space!