Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Latino Pork and beans

The loss of Native American territory as the modern United States was settled through the 19th century

Commonly spoken about in cowboy films, pork and beans takes its place in culinary mythology as the dish that fueled pioneer America when settlers forged west into unexplored territory. Well, unexplored by white people anyway. I mean, it was already home to quite a lot of people who were living there quite happily already (but not for much longer, see the graphic above) but they weren't white European settlers and their story never made it into films so they were clearly not very important.

On a lighter note, a diet consisting largely of beans does have some unwanted side-effect, and you'd not want to share a tent with anyone who eats like this. 

Cowboys eating beans
 Mel Brooks captures the pain of the human condition that can only be relieved by lifting your buttock and farting

Apparently there is also a tinned version of this famous American staple in the States which sounds quite vile. Rumour has it that the pork content is of such poor quality and so insignificant that you might be suspicious that it's made of the sweepings from the floor of an abattoir. As I say, this is hearsay as I've never tried it, but I'd imagine it's something like the full English breakfast in a can which looks and sounds equally revolting. I've also never tried this and, indeed, wouldn't want to eat it if my life depended on it and the only way to consume it was in suppository form. I think I'd prefer a shit sandwich with hemlock dressing and a polonium salsa

Going from the ridiculous to the sublime, this dish is based on a recipe that appeared in the Guardian Saturday cooking supplement (for example they suggest you soak and boil dried beans when I say, in best Sweary style, fuck that when good quality tinned ones are available) though this itself was actually based on Brazilian feijola. It includes Spanish chorizo, Mexican chipotle and dark (ie British/Irish) beer so it's not quite authentically Brazilian. It's similar in a lot of ways to my chilli recipe but it does taste quite different and is another slow cooked classic made in one pot. There is something wonderful about trying a new recipe and it turning out so great you know it is a keeper, and this is one of those dishes

400g belly pork
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1 medium sized carrot chopped
50g chorizo, chopped
1 tin of black beans, drained
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chipotle paste
½ tsp chilli flakes
1½ tbsp tomato puree
1tsp mixed herbs
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 tin tomatoes
200ml dark beer
500 ml water
1 vegetable stock cube

It's all in the chopping
Celery, carrot, garlic, onion and chorizo

Remove the skin/crackling from the pork belly (I posted a blog mentioning my fatal attraction to pork scratchings recently so you ought to realise there's no way in hell I'm letting this go to waste. See the notes for what you can do with this)

Heat the oil in a pan, add the pork and brown it for a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon

Add the onion and garlic to fry for 5 minuted before adding the carrot and celery. Allow these to sweat out for 5-10 minutes before adding the chorizo and fry for another five minutes when the chorizo should colour up the vegetables.

More ingredients ready to go in
From 11 o'clock: mixed herbs, tomato puree, chipotle paste, black pepper, cumin

Add the cumin, black pepper, herbs, chipotle paste, chilli flakes, mustard and tomato puree then mix before adding the chopped yellow peppers to soften for a few minutes.

Pour in the tinned tomatoes, beer, water and crumble in the stock cubes before mixing well.

Add the beans and return the pork to the pan.

Simmer, covered, on a low heat for 3 hours or more (this would be a good slow cooker recipe). The pork should be almost falling apart.

Serve with rice, bread or baked or sauteed potatoes (roasted sweet potatoes would be fucking amazing with this).
A panful of porky joy


This is what to do with the crackling:
- Ensure the skin is well scored into 2cm strips (should be done already, but use a sharp knife to do it yourself if not).
-Chuck it in a pan of water, heat it to boiling and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
-Pat it dry with kitchen roll, sprinkle salt on it, then wrap it in more kitchen roll for 30 minutes.
-Put it into an ovenproof dish and put it in a hot oven at 200°C for 45 minutes.
That's fantastic pork scratchings right there. In the recipe I adapted for this blog entry it states you use this as a garnish on the stew but I'd say fuck that and eat the scratchings on their own as a snack.

Chipotle chillies are fantastic, and the heat and warm smoky flavour the paste brings the dish is wonderful. On the other hand, chipotle paste isn't that easy to come by in the UK, unless you go to one of the really big supermarkets or some wanky Mexican deli. I mean, I make no secret of the fact that I'm a foodie wanker and I got hold of it, but improvisation is the bedrock of a great dish. Add more chilli flakes and a couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika instead. Damn it, even swap some of the chorizo for smoked bacon to give the same flavour if you can't get smoked paprika.

Mexican delis aren't that common in the UK, mainly on account of there not being a significant Mexican community over here. For example, where I live, the Mexican community is incredibly small. So small, in fact, that he lives in the centre of town and is actually my Spanish teacher.

The recipe would work with pork filet as well as the belly used in this incarnation and this would also be lower in fat and cook quicker.

As I mentioned above, the black beans are available in tins so why bother soaking and boiling the dried variety? Seriously, why make something more complicated than it needs to be? Sure, they'll be a bit cheaper, but how fucking tight are you to want to do that if you're already paying for chipotle paste and pork belly but want to save 10p on the beans? Also, make sure you get black turtle beans, not Chinese black beans which are fermented soya beans and totally different. The tin I bought for this was from Dunn's River (though if you can't find these, red kidney beans would also work):

This is the sort of dish Thomasina Miers might feature in her column. She is one of those trendy celeb chefs, slightly less trendy than the Yott, but she won Masterchef and her speciality is fantastic Central American Latino food that demands things like quail and day-old brioche. It's probably no revelation to say I've never won Masterchef. To be fair, I've never actually applied to enter the show as it's not really my kind of cooking. In fact the only reason I'd try to get on the show might be to try and infect John Torode and Greg Wallace with norovirus.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Egg fried rice, Indian style

The word "sundry", meaning "odds and sods", is an odd one because it's almost an obsolete word. In fact, pretty much the only time you really see it is at the back of a menu at an Indian restaurant where it categorises all the accompaniments for your curry, like rice or bread. Ironically, the only thing that appeared in this section (at least, until banned by the EU in 1997) that actually was sundried was Bombay duck. It's fairly common knowledge that it's not actually duck but is in fact dried fish. I can only assume it gets its name because it tastes fucking foul. Even the city of Bombay is no longer known by that name since it officially became Mumbai in 1995 in order to separate the city from it's past as part of the British Raj. Perhaps there's a connection, though if I was pissed off at the imperialistic nature of my former colonial masters, I'd send them even more of that fishy shit for pissed British people to order in the curry house after a skinful and leave them with a taste in their mouth making them worry that they had fellated a dead squid the previous night when they wake the next day.

Bombay Duck
Looking at that picture you'd not know whether to smoke it, put it on your garden or flush it down the toilet

Chinese restaurants in the UK generally do egg fried rice to go with their dishes. You can get boiled rice too (as well as chips, though I've already given my opinion on having chips with Oriental food in another blog) but the combination of rice with egg is actually pretty good and works just as well with a curry if you add a bit of spice. This dish is pretty quick to make as well which is always an advantage and it's less fannying around than making a pilau (like this one, for example). It's also vegetarian.

1 mug basmati rice
good pinch of salt
1/2 a small to medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp tumeric

Rinse the rice by placing it in a pan full of water, giving it a swirl then draining it. Do this a couple of times more  to remove excess starch from the grains. Finally drain it off into a sieve. Cook it according to the method used in my previous recipe for pilau rice by adding just less than one and a half times the volume of water as the amount of rice you're using (in this case one and a half mugs). Bring quickly to the boil, turn the heat right down and cover for twenty minutes, until the water is absorbed. You should be left with soft, fluffy rice with long basmati grains.

When the rice is ready, heat the oil in a frying pan or wok and add the spice for about half a minute then add the onion and garlic, stirring constantly. Slowly fry until soft. Crack the egg into the onion mix and stir it as it sets. When it's almost cooked, pour in the rice and stir gently to mix everything together without breaking up the rice grains. You should end up with nicely golden, fluffy rice that goes well with any curry.

Indian egg-fried rice
Not the most interesting picture but it has a pleasant colour

I already mentioned that the best way to get decent rice is to buy a huge, fuck off bag from a local Asian grocers.

I have to give a mention to my local Asian supermarket, Mullaco in Dewsbury, where a 5kg bag of basmati rice costs less than £8. I realise it's a bit parochial to plug a local shop in a blog that may be read anywhere in the world, but it's that good.

In my introduction I mentioned fellating a dead squid to describe the sort of post-binge-drinking mouth-feel you would likely experience after eating Bombay duck the night before, and even I have to admit this is a ridiculous image to conjure. However, I'm lead to believe that this cephalopod-based act is actually the second part of the initiation ritual allegedly participated in by our Prime Minister when he was at university, the one that follows on from the activity widely reported to have involved sticking his todger in the mouth of a pig. Or not.

Bombay duck picture from http://www.bombay-duck.co.uk/

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Baingan Tamatar (aubergine and tomato curry)

Aubergines are funny things. They're called eggplants in the States, apparently because the first ones that Europeans saw were like the little white ones in the picture below. You do wonder though if they may have got a different name if they'd first seen one of the others, like a purple and white stripy arse plant (far right), or a deep violet penis fruit (do I need to point that fucker out?). I should stress that the latter ought not to be confused with a penis gourd.

United colours of aubergines

And what of other vegetables if they had been named after what they look like? I've already alluded to the sex toy appearance of the butternut squash and the phallic appearance of the courgette in previous recipes (to paraphrase the title of my own blog, it's not big, but it is funny). Would we find the "goth carrot" (parsnip); the "leafy stinking football" (cabbage) or the "You wouldn't want one of them up your arse" (artichoke) quite so appetising?

Of course, we Brits, being proudly European (apart from those of the UKIP persuasion), name them aubergine from the French word for the vegetable which is derived from in turn from Arabic al badinjan which itself comes from the Sanskrit vatimgana which is also the root of the Hindi word for aubergine, baingan, the title of the recipe.

All this linguistic nerdism is well and good, but the word aubergine does sound uncomfortably close to the French word for an inn, auberge, which spawned the Chris Rea song below and I'm not entirely sure that can be forgiven.

Whatever you want to call it, the aubergine is a fantastic vegetable. It is often thing of beauty with its vivid colour. It's also substantial enough to make the basis of a good main course dish in its own right, tastes great, and works really well in curries like this one. As I've said before, I've got a lot of respect for vegetarians and a great vegetarian dinner is all the better for the smug satisfaction you get in the knowledge that it didn't have any dead animal in it (at least, none that you knew about. I mean, there's no accounting for the odd fly or spider that made its home somewhere in the ingredients). This makes a decent main course for a couple of people with rice and/or a nice Indian bread.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 big onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1bay leaf
~10cm piece cinnamon
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp onion seeds
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 cloves
pinch chilli flakes
1 tsp salt
1 good sized aubergine (about 3-400g worth if you use smaller ones), topped, tailed and cut into 2cm cubes
1 tin of tomatoes (ideally chopped)
200ml water
1 tsp garam masala

Heat the oil in a nice, solid pan and add the spices.

Fry for a minute then add the onion and garlic and sautee gently to soften.

Add the tomatoes and aubergines and stir well.

Add the water, bring to the boil and simmer.

Leave for at least half an hour, until the aubergine is tender.

Add the garam masala and stir well.

Taste and add more salt if it's needed.

Serve it on its own with rice and/or naan bread or with other accompaniments.

Vegetable oil should be neutrally flavoured, like sunflower or rapeseed.

About 30% of the population of India are vegetarian. This amounts to over 350,000,000 people, over five times the entire population of the UK. It's therefore not surprising that probably the best vegetarian food in the world is from India, like this dish. I've got a few more great veggie curries up my sleeve for later blog entries.

I've mentioned before that aubergines are part of the nightshade family, also including tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. We could survive without these plants (in Europe we actually did without most of them before Columbus), but food would be so ridiculously dull.

Garam masala is a mixture of aromatic spices that pep up the flavour of a curry that might be lost during the cooking process.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


It's a Sweary Brucie-Bonus!
Fucking nice to see you, to see you, fucking nice!

Bruce Forsyth
is a showbiz legend in the UK. He's also older than God's dad. Despite his advanced years, until a couple of years back he was still presenting Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC. He's most famous for his shit jokes and godawful catchphrases involving audience participation, though nowadays you can't help thinking that he uses the audience to help remember what he's supposed to be saying. The reason I mention him is so he cannot be confused with the subject of this blog entry, the wonderful Italian starter bruschetta.

First thing's first, this is how it's pronounced:

Bruschetta (or this version, at any rate) is basically an open tomato sandwich on toasted bread. This description really doesn't do justice to the dish, and it's a bit like describing a blowjob as a moist wank. The combination of the toasted bread, fresh tomatoes, olive oil garlic and fresh basil is fantastic.

1 loaf of fresh bread (French baguette or ciabatta)
1 large clove of garlic
Good olive oil (extra virgin)
100g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
Small handful of fresh basil leaves
Black pepper

Slice the bread diagonally to give plenty of area to put the rest of the ingredients on and toast the bread on both sides.

Rub the clove of garlic on the toasted bread then crush what's left.

Gently fry the crushed garlic in some olive oil for a couple of minutes and set aside

Pile the chopped tomatoes on the bread

Liberally drizzle olive oil on the bread and tomatoes

Tear the basil leaves roughly and scatter them on top of the bruschetta

Pour the fried garlic and oil over then grind plenty of black pepper and serve it up.

This amount of tomatoes is enough to make four decent-sized slices which is a good starter for two or something smaller for four. It makes a great starter with something like my recently posted ham and mushroom pasta dish

This recipe lives or dies on the quality of its ingredients. It needs fresh bread; fresh, ripe tomatoes; a decent quality, fruity olive oil and fresh basil.

You can toast the bread in a toaster. On the other hand, you can make it look good by the art of food wankerie and doing it in a hot, dry griddle pan. Being of the epicurean onanistic persuasion, I used the griddle pan method

As I said above, the tomatoes need to be nice and ripe and quite soft. To be honest, this recipe is best made in the summer when tomatoes have the most flavour. If it's out of season, at least look for the reddest and most fragrant tomatoes you can get.