When it’s cold and blustery out there, and all you’ve got is a rain-drenched dog walk to look forward to, sometimes you need something ordinary, easy, warming, and tasty to eat. I like to think of Boston Baked Beans as comfort food, but the fact is, it’s nothing more than homemade baked beans.
Okay, so the chewing gum cheese isn’t from Growing Well – it was all my own invention with the help of a pack of halloumi and my eyes being bigger than my frying pan – but almost everything else was.
Let’s get a couple of things straight: it isn’t necessary to eat loads of meat. You really can get plenty of protein from beans and peas and and nuts and egg. Even cheese, though it’s high in fat (salted cashews and pistachios aside, I can usually eat more cheese than nuts). I’ve read that you get a special good-for-you protein when you eat rice and beans together. Who knows? It’s a filling combination.
In my latest drive for food which is healthy and interesting to the brocolli-hating, inveterate meat eater (Himself), I’ve struck gold on beans. Tinned beans of any type (butterbeans, adzuki, kidney, cannellini, borlotti are the most obvious) thrown into a big pot with celery, peppers, onions, garlic, tomato puree and tomatoes and simmered till cooked. The addition of some kind of meat, nice but not necessary, is usually fresh or cured pork in one form or another.
Take the 3 bean (kidney, cannellini and sweetcorn) chorizo stew for example. Throw everything you want to eat in one pot and simmer until it’s cooked.
1 x tin butterbeans, large handful of spinach, .75 x tin of tomatoes and all the juice. 1-2 onions, loads of garlic, a couple of handfuls of small pasta, 3 tblsp worcestershire sauce, 2 tsps sugar and a stock cube with a slug of water.
Make of what you have. Probably not baked beans though.
The roast pork belly pieces were two pathetic strips bought from a certain British supermarket, and blatantly not suitable for confit. Slow cooking method, apparently, not suitable for my time span either. Figuring that the slim pieces could cook quicker anyway, I melted some spoonfuls of goose fat in a roasting dish and fry-sealed the belly strips on the hob. The belly went into the hot fat and stayed on 180-190 C for about 50mins. No flavourings, no salt, no garlic or herbs.
When the stew became thick and gloopy and the pasta pieces cooked through, it was time to dollop it onto the plate and top with the pork, the fat rendered perfectly into a tasty crust. No bread needed, no more meat than that.
Next time I will use pieces of pork belly hewn by the butcher in Kirkby and cook it on a low heat for a lot longer. Can’t wait.