Is cheating on a recipe like cheating on a test? I wondered that as I made the “Red Kidney Beans Baked with Chorizo, Chilli, Garlic, and Olive Oil” from Simon Hopkinson’s sequel to “Roast Chicken & Other Stories,” “Second Helpings of Roast Chicken.”
Simon, or Mr. Hopkinson (that feels more appropriate), calls for dried kidney beans in his recipe “soaked in cold water overnight.” I have a philosophy about recipes that call for dried beans soaked in cold water overnight: I hate them! Who plans a recipe the night before? I mean, ok, there’ve been times I knew I was having guests the next day where I made a cake ahead or marinated meat ahead, but I’ve never soaked beans ahead. I just refuse to do it; I use canned beans instead.
And guess what?
In this recipe, canned beans totally work. Using canned beans, in fact, make this recipe a total cinch to put together; and the pay-off is big. It tastes super-gourmet, like you spent hours slaving over it. Which, I suppose, you WOULD have done had you used dried beans (because after you soak them, you have to boil them, drain them, refresh them, re-cover them, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.) Here, you just throw a bunch of stuff together in a skillet, put it in a baking pan, and bake it. Let me walk you through it.
Here’s what you’ll need:
That’s 1 package of dried Chorizo (D’Artagnan makes a very good one);
1 can red kidney beans (you could actually buy two cans, to stretch the recipe)
1 package fresh mint
1 bottle dry Sherry (which makes a nice difference; I keep the rest in my fridge now, hopefully I’ll use it again—it wasn’t that expensive, I think just $6?)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Chop the 2 onions; thinly slice 7 oz. of the sausage (I used 3 sausages for this); chop the mint, for later on.
Heat 3 Tbs of olive oil in a large pan, add the onions and the garlic and cook until lightly colored. Then add the sausage, stir around “until its paprika-infused oil starts to run.” Stir in the chili flakes (to taste, appx. 1/2 tsp), 1/4 cup dry sherry, and 3/4 cup well-flavored stock which I didn’t have, so I just used water (which worked totally fine.)
Bring to a simmer; drain the beans, saving some of the liquid. Add the beans to the pan and enough bean liquid “to achieve a sloppy and soupy mixture.” Adjust the seasoning (it’s ok to taste here, since the chorizo is pre-cooked.) Stir in the mint.
Now tip into a shallow baking dish (he suggests a “brown earthernware pot (a cazuela, in Spanish.)” I just used a glass baking dish. Spoon over 2 Tbs olive oil.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until most of the liquid has evaporated or absorbed itself into the beans. How hot should the oven be? The recipe doesn’t say! Can you believe that? See, how can he fault me for using canned beans when he doesn’t even tell you how hot to get the oven? I rest my case. But, for your purposes, I’d do it at 400. I started mine at 350 but eventually turned it up to 400, because the liquid was taking a long time to evaporate. Actually, after an hour and 15 minutes I gave up on trying to get all the liquid to evaporate; it still tasted (and looked) great.
He suggests serving it with a salad, which sounds nice. I also think it calls out for some kind of yogurt sauce. I’m not quite sure what that yogurt sauce would be–maybe just yogurt mixed with lemon juice and some mint?–but I bet that would taste good.
Anyway, this is a good recipe for bean cheaters. And if you’d like to make it with dried beans, go right ahead, GOODY TWO SHOES. You just can’t be in the Canned Bean Club, so THERE.