Monday, April 28, 2014

Stewed cannellini beans with lemon and garlic

I got the idea of using lemon zest from Nigel Slater, I think. The zest enlivens the bland, mealy quality of the beans, as do the garlic and the pepper.

For more about cooking dried beans, see here.

Serves 2, as a generous side portion.

150g cannellini beans
3 garlic cloves, 1 of them peeled and chopped
2tbsp olive oil
1dstsp tomato puree or tomato ketchup
1/3tsp lemon zest
Salt, pepper

Soak the beans in filtered water. They may take about eight hours to hydrate (see the entry to which I’ve linked above).

Drain them, cover with fresh filtered water, throw in the whole and unpeeled garlic cloves, bring to the boil, and simmer. Cooking times vary wildly, in my experience: from 1 to 3 hours, in part depending on how thoroughly the beans have been soaked.

Drain the beans, but retain the water in a jug. Extract the garlic, and remove the flesh from the skins.

Warm the oil in a small saucepan, and add both the cooked and uncooked garlic, stirring the cooked flesh to encourage it to melt. After a minute or so, tip the beans into the pan.

Pour the bean water into another jug until you have just the sludgy stuff at the bottom. Pour enough of this into the beans to create a moist but not runny texture. Add the tomato (ketchup is fine, and may even be nicer), lemon zest, salt to taste, and plenty of pepper. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Simple oxtail stew revisited

I questioned, in my first version of this stew, whether you needed to soften the onions first. I have since decided that a gentle frying/stewing in oil for 10 to 15 minutes gives them a sweetness (eliminating their acidity) that may enhance the dish.

I made the stew again yesterday. Once the onions had softened, I added the herbs, star anise, half a tsp of salt, plenty of ground black pepper (ground pepper is reputed to turn bitter in stock, but does not seem to do so in stews, in my experience), and the oxtails. No stock or water.

After about an hour in the even at a low heat, the stew was creating its own sauce. At this stage, I added the tbsp of ketchup and the soy (which might have caught and burned when the casserole dish was dry).

I gave the stew three and a half hours in total. As before, I removed the oxtails to a board, sieved the sauce – of which there was just the right quantity - into a small saucepan (pressing down on the vegetables). Then I returned the oxtails and sauce to the casserole, covered it, and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes or so, to warm through.