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!

Spaghetti carbonara

Carbonara is the dinner I cook if I have nothing else in the house, but I don’t want to go down the road of fish fingers and beans (which is my default ‘I can’t even face actually TOUCHING the food’ dinner). I tend to always keep a pack of bacon in the fridge, because it keeps for ages and can be used in so many different ways. I’ve also normally got eggs, unless I’ve used them all, along with a block of parmesan (currently I’ve got a block the size of my head in the fridge, you can never have enough), so it’s a great fallback dish.

I know it’s not going to win any ‘healthiest dinner’ awards, but it’s really really quick to make (it only takes as long as it takes to boil the pasta, plus about 3 minutes more), and it tastes amazing. I think it’s elegant enough to serve for a dinner party, and it’s a great one to cook if you’ve got a friend coming over because it’s so quick there is plenty of time for chat and there’s no prep or anything involved!

I love the combination of salty, creamy and cheesy, and the nutmeg is the perfect sweet, spiced note on top of everything else. Nutmeg always reminds me of the rice puddings my mum used to make, it’s one of the most nostalgic foods I can think of! You can use the traditional cubes of pancetta, although I tend to find them quite tough sometimes because of the chunks of fat (I’m REALLY fussy about fat on meat, I usually cut most of it off if it’s not crispy), so I use rashers of pancetta or smoked bacon instead and I think I like the texture of this more with the silky pasta. I also always use linguini for this, I suppose then I shouldn’t be calling it Spaghetti Carbonara, but I really don’t think Linguine Carbonara has the same ring to it…

I don’t know where this recipe is from; I’ve probably taken elements from here there and everywhere. I don’t bother weighing anything out or any of that annoying business, this is relaxed cooking at its finest.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves 2

4/5 rashers pancetta/smoked bacon
200g spaghetti/linguine (a reasonable handful)
A knob of butter
1/2 glass white wine
2 large eggs
A handful of grated parmesan
A pinch of nutmeg, grated
A splash of double cream if you have it
Pepper

Method

If you time this right you can do everything in just the time it takes to cook the pasta. The first thing I do is put some water on to boil and start cooking the pasta. Once the pasta is in the pan, snip the bacon into a large frying pan (large enough to take the cooked pasta) with a drizzle of olive oil and fry until crisp.

While the bacon is frying and the pasta is boiling, beat together the eggs, parmesan, nutmeg, pepper (you don’t need salt because the bacon and the cheese are salty enough) and cream if you’re using it (you don’t have to but it makes it richer and creamier. I only use it if I have some in the fridge).

Once the bacon is ready, pour in the white wine and simmer until it’s reduced down and syrupy. Hopefully by this point the pasta will be ready. Drain it, turn the heat down on the bacon pan, and add the knob of butter to the bacon and winey juices. Add the pasta to the bacon pan and toss in the butter and juices until the pasta has absorbed it all.

Take the pan off the heat, and add the eggy mixture. Toss through until it’s formed a thick, silky sauce all around the pasta. If you don’t take the pan off the heat, the egg in the sauce will cook and it will go really weird. There will be enough heat in the pasta and the pan to cook the sauce enough.

Now, serve and enjoy! Ultimate comfort food.

Oven-baked risotto with leeks, asparagus, bacon and poached egg

I love risotto, but I rarely make it. It’s one of those things that I eat while my husband is away because he’s not overly keen on it (another thing I don’t understand), but also a lot of the time I just can’t face standing by the stove for 20 minutes stirring it until it’s cooked. I know it’s not exactly hard work, but a lot of the time when I’ve just got home from work I just want to shove something in the oven and sit down until it’s cooked.

As you can imagine, when I saw the recipe for an oven baked risotto I got a bit excited. This opens up SO many possibilities, not only to eat it more often, but also to experiment with more elaborate ingredients. If I’m not standing stirring the risotto, I can be cooking up some other things to put in. I went to a restaurant in Birmingham called Bank a few months ago, and had the most amazing haddock and leek risotto with a poached egg on top which was complete heaven. I LOVE poached eggs on anything, it seems common sense to add one to the top of a risotto so the yolk mixes in to all the creamy rice, yummmm.

Risottos are such a great way to use up leftover bits of veg that otherwise won’t go very far, or they can be made into something delicious with just some freezer ingredients (peas, broad beans, french beans etc). As long as it’s got lots of cheese in, it’s a winner. I’d recreated the above risotto (without the haddock since I didn’t have it) already, but I fancied trying out a baked version to which I could also add some crispy bacon that can be cooked in the oven alongside the risotto. The result was nothing short of AMAZING. It was so easy and quick, and the resulting risotto was super creamy and the rice was cooked to just the right consistency. I did, however, sustain the most painful burn I’ve EVER had, because I made the foolish mistake of grabbing the saucepan handle when I was stirring the risotto right after it had come out the oven. After running it under cold water for ages I finally ate the (albeit lukewarm) risotto with a wet lump of tissue stuck on the burn before I could run to my resident first aider (my husband’s cousin who lives opposite) who administered me with some rather amazing burn gel. Who knew being a food blogger was so dangerous?

Injuries aside, I will definitely be making this again, and again and again. With loads of different ingredients. It’s SO easy and convenient. What’s not so convenient is the burnt on milk in the saucepan but hopefully that’s nothing an overnight soak won’t fix. I got the recipe from the BBC Good Food website but tweaked it a little. This is how I did it.

Oven baked risotto with leeks, asparagus, bacon and poached egg

Serves 2

1 medium leek
Knob of butter
Olive oil
150g risotto rice (I used arborio)
350ml vegetable stock
125ml milk (I used semi skimmed but use whatever you drink!)
Around 10 asparagus spears
4 rashers bacon
2 eggs

Method

Melt the butter in a pan which can go into the oven, and add a drop of olive oil. Slice the leeks and add them to the pan and cook them gently for 5 minutes or so to soften. Once the leeks are soft, add the rice and stir. Wait until the rice has absorbed the butter and then add the stock and the milk. Bring everything to the boil and then cover the pan with a lid/foil and put into the oven at 200C.

The risotto should take about 18 minutes to cook. Chop the asparagus into pieces and get a pan of water ready for the egg. When the risotto’s got about 5 minutes left, add the asparagus spears and add a little more water/milk to the risotto if it looks a bit dry. Put the bacon rashers on a baking tray and put them into the oven.

Once the bacon has been in a few minutes, poach the eggs. Once everything is cooked it’s just a case of piling everything on top of each other, and seasoning the risotto to taste. I would normally have snipped the bacon into pieces once cooked so that I could easily eat this with a fork, but in my burned, fragile state I didn’t get round to that! You can, of course, put some parmesan in/on this – I didn’t this time in the interest of trying to be healthy but normally I would fill it with cheese!

I will never go back to making a risotto the normal way now, I’m coverted for life!