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…
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
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!