Thursday, 26 April 2012

Cassoulita (Mexican style Baked Beans)

Exciting Things are happening here in North Lincolnshire. We are perilously close to setting up a gorram brewery! The site has been located & forms filled out in octuplicate, the bank shamans have been appeased with offerings of cash flow charts & SWOT* analysis, and after some intense negotiations, it is agreed that there will be beetroot beer. It will be called 'Best Beeter'. You may not believe me, but that wasn't my idea.

But anyway, I promised Mexican baked beans, and here it is.

Cassoulita is a Mexican inspired dish of beans, sweetcorn & vegetables baked in a rich pasilla chile sauce (though you can use guajillo instead, or if all else fails chipotle). I can't think of a nicer way to spend a rainy afternoon (we're having a lot of those at the moment), and it fills the house with warm, comforting spice.
We've been eating it on sourdough toast (sourdough will be blogged about soon!), though it's lovely on baked potato, with eggs or veggie sausages.

Pasilla sauce
4 dried pasilla chiles
1/2 cup ground almonds
4 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tomato puree
750ml vegetable stock
250ml boiling water
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Deseed the chiles & soak in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain & combine with all the other ingredients, adding the stock a little at a time, in a blender & wizz until smooth. You have pasilla sauce, that wasn't too hard, was it? If you can't get pasilla or guajillo chiles, replace with 4 tbsp of chipotle paste.

1 batch of Pasilla sauce
500g beans (pinto, black beans or borlotti work well, but you can use any), soaked overnight & cooked. Or 3 cans of beans, drained.
2 sticks of celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 red onions (say it with me) finely diced
200g sweetcorn
2 tbsp vegetable oil
bunch of coriander, chopped

Preheat oven to 150C/300F/G2. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Fry the onion, carrot & celery until translucent. Add the pasilla sauce & beans & stir. Cover & bake for 1 hour (if you don't have a big casserole dish, you can transfer the beans to an oven dish & cover with tinfoil). If you fancy, remove the lid after 40 minutes & top with shredded cheese, anything you fancy, though Monterey Jack is pretty good.
serve with avocado and a squeeze of lime.

Om nom nom!

*aka we will fight off our competition with reasoned debates, responsible pricing structures & a sack full of doorknobs.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Boston Baked Beans

Baked beans are one of those things that pretty much everyone is familiar with, though the name is a bit of a misnomer, as the beans (usually haricot beans, little white beans known as navy beans in the US, despite being neither blue nor associated with the Village People but due to their being highly nutritious & having a long storage life, which made them a popular foodstuff in the US Navy) are usually stewed rather than baked. Baked beans come from the French peasant dish Cassoulet, a slow cooked stew of white beans and pork. In Brazil these bean stews are called feijoada, in Spain fabada, in Greece fasolada.
In the US baked beans are made with pork rind, maple syrup, offcuts of barbecued meats or molasses, depending on the region. Boston baked beans are traditionally made with molasses & pork, so are sweet, but rich & complex, rather than sugary. Here in the UK baked beans just means beans in tomato sauce in a can. They are cheap and available everywhere from Fortnum & Mason to the smallest corner shop. So why make your own?
Well, because its a nice way to spend a rainy afternoon, it tastes a hundred times better than the stuff in tins and sometimes its nice to spend the afternoon pottering around the kitchen being bloody minded enough to spend the best half of the day making what is essentially the ultimate in fast food!

I used pinto beans in this recipe, because I'm a maverick like that. You can use any beans you fancy, and if their not white, ninjas from the Society of Historically Accurate Foods will not sneak into your house at night and steal all your teaspoons.

Boston Baked Beans

400g dried white beans such as haricot, cannellini or butter beans(or 3 400g tins - don't drain them though!)
125ml molasses (you can use black treacle if you can't get molasses)
2 tsp yellow mustard powder
2 tbs tomato puree
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper

If using dried beans, soak in plenty of water overnight. Drain, place in a large saucepan & cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil & cook 10 minutes before reducing the heat. Simmer until tender (sorry to be vague, but cooking times for beans varies depending on age & size) & set to one side. Don't drain, you'll need some of the cooking liquid.
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/G2.
Tip the beans into a large ovenproof dish, reserving the cooking/can liquid. Stir in the rest of the ingredients (if you are using tinned beans you wont need any salt. If using dried beans, 1 tsp salt should do the job). Pour over just enough cooking/can liquid to cover the beans & cover with foil. Place in the oven and bake for 3 hours. Yes, 3 hours. Check every hour in case they need topping up with water.
Remove from oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Serve any way you fancy, though I recommend cornbread or sourdough toast.

Next time baked beans - Mexican Style!