Saturday, 1 November 2008

Baked beans - food of the gods

You can get baked beans for 17p a tin at Asda at the moment.

Okay, beans on toast. Once. After that it gets boring.

But you can do better than that. Let's try waking those tired old baked beans up!

What about baked beans with chorizo. You need a proper chorizo for this, not one of those packs of sliced sausage, because you need to chop it up into little cubes. A good spiced sausage of any other kind would work - African hot, Hungarian paprika, whatever. If you have a sausage that isn't spicy, then add some paprika and some chili to the frying oil.

Don't economise on the sausage. You need one with a good firm texture.

Fry your sausage cubes. Use a fair bit of oil and you'll see the paprika colour it nicely.

You might want to add some chopped onion. You might want to add some garlic.

Now make sure the oil is nice and hot, and add a spoonful of beans, and fry them ; then add a few more beans, and keep stirring, till all the beans are in the pot. The idea is to get the first couple of spoonfuls of beans to go a little bit crispy round the edges. Together with the sausage, that gives your meal a delightful texture, part crunchy and part smooth.

Serve up your beans. Perhaps add some fried bread croutons for fun.

Of course you can also make a chilli using baked beans and mince. Again it's the little details that matter. Go to an Indian grocer's and get a big bag of dried red chillis for this kind of cooking - I just swirl them around in a bit of hot oil, whole. (Which means they're easier to take out. No one gets a mouthful of achingly hot chilli!)

Baked beans can also make a cheat's cassoulet (though to be authentic you'd need duck, which is not frugal, and I think that's a waste of a lovely ingredient).

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