The weather’s cold, snow is a-falling and we’re all freezing our nuts off (in a non gender specific way). This is the time to head in to culinary battle crying “God for Harry, England and a warming dinner”. Cold brings out the blood thirsty warrior in me.
And in the spirit of dear old Prince Hal, King Harry or whoever he was, I managed to find some chorizo made from English venison. A strong gamey sausage with all the smoky heat of a chorizo. Not quite as zingy or intense as the real McCoy. But interesting and it worked really well with this dish.
As I grew up, one of my favourite winter (and summer, spring, morning, noon and night) dish was beans. Baked beans. Baked beans with spicy stuff. With cheese. With hot sauce. With curry powder. Clearly I was a gourmet in the making.
I’m sure that it was because there’s something wonderfully soft and soothing about beans. They provide a good base upon which to hang spicier, stronger ingredients. Add good beans to a good sauce and you have something to spoon into a baked spud, pour over some toasted ciabatta or simply scoop in by the mouthful from a bowl.
So, with beans, spice and sausage, you have the dish to ward off any invasive chills, shield yourself from the seasons and generally stay warm and cosy. And you can cook it in an hour, less than that if you don’t have a bee in your bonnet about preparing all your ingredients beforehand and layoing them all out so very very neatly.
Enough for four people with spuds, or a light supper
The base of the sauce is something akin to an Italian soffritto – a mix of finely chopped celery, carrot and onion softened in a decent olive oil. This gives a good underlying structure to the dish, an undefinable depth.
The rest builds on that, adding layers of warming spice, soft textures and nuggets of meaty taste.
1 onion – finely chopped
2 carrots – finely chopped
2 sticks celery – finely chopped
1 courgette – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped/minced/crushed
1 tsp ground coriander
.5 tsp smokey paprika
1 tin tommies
1 tin butter beans
2 chorizo sausages – chopped into 1cm thick slices
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 small glass red wine
salt and black pepper to season
Heat the onion, celery and carrot over a low heat in a glug of olive oil until they soften but don’t colour.
Add the chorizo and fry until the oil starts colouring and they start to brown a little. Then add the courgettes and fry for another couple of minutes.
Add the beans, garlic, coriander and the paprika and stir and fry for a minute. Then turn the heat up to medium-hot before pouring in the red wine and giving it a stir.
Leave to bubble for a minute then add the tomatoes. Wash out the tomato tin with a little water and add that too then season with some black pepper and sea salt.
Tuck in the thyme and bay leaf, reduce the heat to very low, put a lid on the pan and leave to simmer slowly for at least 15-20 mins while yo make any accompaniments.
When are you read to eat, taste the sauce and add as much hot sauce as you think necessary to add enough heat. The aim is for background warmth rather than tongue searing heat.