Baked Red Kidney Beans with Chorizo

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?)

2 onions

Not pictured:

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

olive oil

chili flakes

Step 1:

Chop the 2 onions; thinly slice 7 oz. of the sausage (I used 3 sausages for this); chop the mint, for later on.

Step 2:

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.)

Step 3:

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.


Step 4:

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.


Step 5:

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.

33 thoughts on “Baked Red Kidney Beans with Chorizo”

  1. I’ve got two reasons I use dried beans and neither is allegiance to recipes nor elitism:

    1. Cheaper

    2. Less heavy to carry home (and up 4 flights of stairs) than canned

    But I agree- remembering the night before can be tough. “Quick” soaking via boiling before simmering when cooking generally works ok.


  2. The water-logged texture of a canned bean is a sad alternative to the rich, creamy texture of a soaked and cooked dried bean.

    Making beans doesn’t require all those steps … we’ve made them plenty of times without even soaking them first.

    In our household we soak (more energy efficient than going directly to the boil) and cook up a bag of beans just about every week.

  3. This recipe looks really great with just one exception: the mint. I just can’t wrap my head around how it can work in this dish. Can anybody convince me otherwise?

  4. Not only are dry beans cheaper and easier to carry, they’re also beautiful when dry, they taste better when cooked (if you know how to cook them properly), and above all: the texture you get once cooked cannot be beaten.


  5. The dish looks great. I love how you just tell it like it is around your recipe experiences. Happy eating!

  6. Your finished product looks lovely, as if you’d put it under the broiler for a few. At first, when I saw the photo, I mistook the chorizo for carrots. Now I am convinced I have to put carrots in it, but that might be a bad idea.

    I’m so down with you on the canned beans vs. dry. I will lug heavy cans on any manner of public transport to get out of all of those tedious steps! And I am notorious for undercooking beans. Because I am impatient.

    I’m a new reader- you’ve saved me at work :)

  7. There is no need to keep Sherry in the fridge. You probably won’t use it that much anyway so I don’t know why you’d want to give it such prized real estate. Looks delicious, as always.

  8. Adam —

    I happen to like canned beans for recipes … certainly less fuss than starting from scratch (although when I have time I start with dried). A note about your leftover sherry … I use it all the time in soups and chicken dishes and I’ve never bothered to refrigerate it. I’ve never had it go bad on me (unlike some wine, which I always refrigerate). Another good one to have around is vermouth … a splash of it or sherry in clam chowder is great. I don’t think I’ve ever posted a comment before, but I’ve been reading you for a while and enjoy your site. Thanks for what you do.

  9. It’s a keeper! I will try this one out, and it will go perfectly with the really chilly weather I’m experiencing.

    BTW is it a Le Creuset pot you have on your table?


  10. I’m in the canned bean club. So much easier and still pretty cheap – plus, one less pot to wash at the end!

  11. I’m in the canned bean club. So much easier and still pretty cheap – plus, one less pot to wash at the end!

  12. I’m in the canned bean club. So much easier and still pretty cheap – plus, one less pot to wash at the end!

  13. I’m in the canned bean club. So much easier and still pretty cheap – plus, one less pot to wash at the end!

  14. OK first – last night I did the broccoli and sweet potato and it really was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten.

    Second, the beans and chorizo looks so great and I will try it soon.

    Third, thanks to all the commenters who advise using dried beans. I will try this. I have always used canned beans for the convenience but I’ve been looking for ways to cut expenses anywhere I can and if they are better I will try it!

    Finally – why on earth are you keeping sherry in your fridge? Seems to me that would be kind of like keeping red wine in the fridge. I’m just curious . . .

  15. Two words to make one more argument in favor of dried beans: pressure cooker.

    You don’t have to soak, and they cook in under 30 minutes, plus they stay firmer than canned beans.

  16. That looks really, really excellent to have in the cold rainy cold.

    Here is what you do to take the pain out of dried beans: soak a whole bunch of them at once, boil them all, drain them, and FREEZE THEM, divided into reasonable 2-cuppish portions. Then when you need beans you just reach into the freezer and let them defrost in whatever you’re coking. It’s super easy and much cheaper/tastier than buying canned beans!

    The sherry is a great idea to have around for tossing into all your pasta sauces and etc. I usually stock (and regularly use up bottles of) dry vermouth for this very thing. You’ll totally use it.

  17. Dry beans are good when you get really good ones, like from Rancho Gordo, but the dried things you get in most stores aren’t a lot different than the ones you get in cans, and there are a lot of good canned beans.

    But I’m commenting on a different issue: when posting recipes, things like “one package” as in the Chorizo and Mint above don’t do much good. Better would be “1 lb” or “2 cups” or whatever. I have mint growing wild in my yard and use it all the time.

  18. This looks really interesting. I am not a bean connoisseur so I would probably be just fine with the canned ones. I like the pressure cooker idea though. I am going to have to get one of those one of these days!

    I have a question about the mint. What kind of mint is it when a recipe just calls for “mint”? It sounds like a silly question, but there are lots of kinds of mint, like peppermint and spearmint, which I think have very different flavors. Anyone? Thanks!!

  19. One of life little pleasures is when you put a cup or two of dry beans in a stainless steel bowl at night, cover with water and find twice as many cups filling the bowl the next day. Like bread rising, it one of those kitchen magic tricks that always brings a little smile to my face. Also when you start a meal the day before you have the pleasure of anticipation for that much longer.

    Then drain them, put them in a crock pot with a bay leaf and some rosemary and perhaps some seasoning meat or a ham hock and when I come home from work that evening the house is filled with the delightful aroma of the herbs and meat and beans and the taste is better than anything in a can and at a lower cost.

    Yes I use canned beans as well but I enjoy the dried bean ritual.

  20. adam, i just reread the first sentence of this post, asking if cheating on a recipe was like cheating on a test. i used to slavishly follow recipes and feel anxious if i added less salt than they called for, or made some other minor variation. now i look at cookbooks as ways to inspire me to try something different, and never follow recipes, unless i’m baking something finicky like a cake. when you cook something off the cuff, do you slavishly measure out a tablespoon of olive oil or a teaspoon of dried thyme? i’ll bet that when ina garten is cooking without a camera, she leaves the measuring utensils in the drawer.

    if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading john thorne’s latest book of highly opinionated, curmudgeonly food essays, mouth wide open, he addresses this very issue. i highly recommend his books if you haven’t had the pleasure.

  21. Dear Adam,

    I stumbled upon your site and am so happy that I did. There is something about your approach, that in combo with the information, I find totally engaging, motivating and useful. I will be back again and again. Thank you so much. Patti

  22. totally agree, soaking and boiling your own beans is a total bore. You can use the sherry and mint for spiking chicken broth. That´s Spanish chicken soup for the soul

  23. @ the mint question: typically, in cultures where mint is used frequently, spearmint is the mint used in savoury dishes, peppermint in sweet. Common Garden Mint is usually Spearmint. But if you just have one or the other, either should do the trick especially when it is not the star flavour.

    (And I am a canned bean girl, FWIW)

  24. That looks great! And I’m right there with you on the beans! I made a “cassoulet” last week and used canned white ones! Tasted just fine. :-D

  25. I don’t think it’s like cheating on a test, but I’m not a “must use only dried beans” fanatic either. The only dried beans I keep in the house are lentils -specifically because you don’t have to soak them.

    Also, I’m in the process of making this, but I’m using turkey kielbasa, canned garbanzo beans and thyme because that’s what I had on hand. Am I cheating? :)

    Smells pretty darn good in here regardless…

  26. I’ve learned to plan ahead for cooking beans. Depending upon how my week is playing out if I’m going to have time to cook beans I’ll soak them the night before or soak them during the work day.

    In New Orleans Mondays were traditionally the day for red beans and rice because it was laundry day. The idea being that you would start the beans then do the laundry. When the laundry was finished the beans would be done.

    Personally I like dry beans because then I can control what goes into them when I cook.

  27. I made this last night. It was so good. I put it over rice and topped it with a little sour cream and fresh mint.

  28. Great blog–thanks for all the fun! Here’s the quick and dirty method for beans. In the morning before leaving for work, throw unsoaked, dry beans in crockpot to 1/3 full. Add water up to the rim, cover and cook all day. When you get home, use what you need for dinner, and freeze the rest in small portions

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