okay, so there was a request for this i’m not (just) stroking my ego here.

Pinto bean and chorizo stew:

500g dried pinto beans
1 300g chorizo (or more depending on savagery)
2 tins of tomatoes
1 bulb of garlic
2 hot chilies (or more depending on masochism)
2 onions
some oregano
less basil
3 bay leaves
shitloads of whole cumin
black pepper to taste
150g of bacon lard-ons
sunflower oil

serves 4-8

soak the pinto beans overnight in lots of water (i change the water once but i’m not sure if that’s necessary)

very finely chop the garlic (6 cloves -1 bulb to taste), chilies and onions and put in a heavy-bottomed oven-friendly pot.

pour in just enough sunflower oil to fry what’s in the pot and add the bacon lard-ons (the fat from the chorizo and bacon will more than make up for skimping on the sunflower oil, just make sure they fry rather than burn)

fry for long enough to cook the lard-ons through, basically long enough to cook the bacon but not long enough to burn the garlic.

pour in water (i boil it in the kettle first, just to make sure everything stays cooking) up to about two inches below the lip of the pot (enough so the beans, chorizo and tins tomatoes won’t cause overflowage – you can always add in more if necessary, but do make sure the beans are well-covered so they cook properly)

add in the oregano, basil and bay leaves. loads of oregano – i thought i’d put in too much, it looked like really herby soup. some basil, about a big heaped teaspoon i’d say, maybe two. bring to the bubble.

drain the beans and add them to the pot. while the pot heats up again, skin the chorizo (if you could be fucked) and chop into whatever size chunks you prefer, though for consistancy I would have one dimension being at least 2cm. Add the chorizo to the pot and while its boiling away take two good handfuls of whole cumin seeds and dry fry (preferably in a cast iron pan for slickness) after the first few seeds pop, pour the now hot cumin into a mortar and bash with a pestle until it’s nicely ground or you get sick of it. then chuck the cumin into the pot and stir well.

throw in the two tins of tomatoes and let boil uncovered for about half an hour – just enough time to make sure it all looks okay and will survive well in the oven.

preheat the oven to about 160C, put the lid on the pot and throw in the oven (put on a baking tray or put a baking tray below in case the pot boils over).

you can boil this indefinitely, periodically reducing the temperature by 20C each time (maybe after every hour), providing you stir regularly (about every 30mins) as the fat will tend to rise and the flavour won’t go into the beans. Keep also an eye on the liquid level to make sure the beans have enough to cook in. I would have the food in the oven for at least 3 hours.

Remove the bay leaves before serving with a salad and crusty bread (the salad may be ignored).

Thoughts:

In my opinion there’s no extra salt needed – the bacon and chorizo will work plenty magic.

Two tins of tomatoes is enough to give the stew some flavour but not make it a tomato stew, but one or two more tins won’t ruin it, just add some sugar to counteract the acidity.

I can’t think of a way to present this daintily.

I think of this cooking method as about half way between feijoada, cassoulet and a moorish stew.

If you do it veggie add loads of veg (esp. carrots for body) and lots of extra salt and a lot more olive oil.

Any other beans could be substituted (haricot beans could be brilliant with it), chick peas would be good but would change the texture of the dish completely.

any questions/thoughts/criticisms welcome.

…and

15/02/2010

apologies for the hiatus. new cool shit on the way. promise.

As the first part of my Grindhouse-lite double bill today I’ll quickly mention the predicted public service cuts in Britain. The guardian article claims that both New Labour and the Tories have ring-fenced health, education and defence as immune to cutting leaving law and order and higher education among the public services on the chopping block. Now, whatever you or I may think about maintaining spending on defence and shelling out billions for nuclear weapons that will never be used, at least the government (and, interestingly enough, the opposition) have an opinion. They are at least maintaining the illusion of having principles, though I would argue that this is more about having an effective and threatening fourth estate forcing their hand rather than anything so high and mighty as a moral stance.

I know I have a vested interest in this but given how morally bankrupt the politicians in the UK are it’s a startling lesson in how disgraceful we have let our own public representatives treat – and think of – us.

Oh, and in the final paragraph of the article it is mentioned almost off-hand that part of the reason the cuts will be so deep is the continuation of overseas aid, which is nice. I’d almost bet my right bollock that overseas aid will be obliterated in this year’s budget here.

After a quick intermission I’ll be back with my Planet Terror-style part two.