For this weeks blog post a few of us on Twitter decided that we would set a topic and all cook and blog something along those lines. As someone who mostly cooks and blogs alone I relished the chance to do something interactive with other foodies. However, for the first time since starting the blog I felt a sense of pressure to perform, so hopefully this post will be good enough! It’s been really good fun though and I can’t wait to see what everyone else has come up with.
The topic for this week was brunch. This suited me fine, although I don’t eat brunch too often so it was a challenge to try and think of interesting things to come up with in such a broad category. Over the past week or so my mind has been racing with loads of different ideas, with some sounding pretty wacky and others frankly disgusting. In the end I’m almost sad to say that I went for something pretty safe, but I think equally delicious; good old baked beans. My version lifts the simple tinned version to a new dimension, with the chorizo, paprika and rosemary giving the finished dish a brilliant depth of flavour.
I think I’m the only person I know who really dislikes Heinz baked beans. I find them too sweet and tangy to the point where they overpower any dish that they’re with. With this recipe the finishing touches are what really make the beans special. Some tinned beans cooked with onions and tomatoes would normally be quite bland, but the addition of the treacle, salt and vinegar at the end of the cooking transforms it into something really tasty. This is what I can never understand when talking to people that don’t eat salt; the difference it makes in the taste of food is staggering.
This is a really simple dish to make, and once you try it you’ll make it again and again. The only thing that it needs is patience with the slow and gentle cooking, firstly with the onions and then with the beans. I have used tinned pulses in this recipe for ease, but you can use dried beans that have been soaked overnight if you have them.
It’s worth making a big batch as it keeps well for quite a few days, and like any stew or curry will get better with time.
For the beans:
4 red onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 medium red chilli, finely chopped
110g good chorizo, skinned and cut into 1cm pieces
1 heaped tbsp hot smoked paprika
4 tins cannellini beans, juice retained from 2 of the tins
2 tins butter beans
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 large tbsp black treacle
Splash of white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
For the poached eggs:
1 large egg per person
Splash of white wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Small handful of rocket leaves
Slices of good quality toasted bread
Heat up a large, high sided frying pan or skillet on a low heat and add the butter. When melted add the onions, garlic, chilli, rosemary and paprika and cook slowly until very soft, about 20-30 minutes. Add the chopped chorizo pieces and fry for another 5 or so minutes, or until softened and the oils have been released into the onions.
Pour in both types of beans and the retained liquid, the chopped tomatoes and bay leaves. Stir gently and bring to the boil, then turn right down to a low heat and simmer uncovered for an hour. Be careful to only stir every so often and not to vigorously to keep the beans as intact as possible.
When the beans are nearly done put a large saucepan of salted water on to boil.
After an hour the beans should have thickened a little and darkened in colour slightly. Season well and add the treacle and vinegar, folding into the sauce. Cook for another couple of minutes then taste; you want to find the perfect balance between sweet, salty and sharp. Adjust as needed and take off the heat.
When the water is boiling add the splash of white wine vinegar and reduce to a gentle simmer. Very carefully crack the eggs with a knife and break very close to the surface of the water. Cook for two minutes then check by lifting with a slotted spoon and touching the yolks. If they aren’t quite done then drop back into the water for another 30 seconds.
While the eggs are cooking get the bread toasting and buttered ready to serve.
To plate up spoon some of the beans into a shallow bowl and position the poached egg in the middle. Top with a few rocket leaves, sprinkle over some grated parmesan and drizzle over a little olive oil. Serve with the hot buttery toast and dig in.