So what happened next? Nothing. In fact we put a nice Portuguese red on the wine list which only made matters worse.
This dish reads like an Hispanic who’s who of A-List ingredients: chorizo, saffron, paprika, garlic, tomato and butter beans. It was intended to be a vehicle for a good piece of fish, with some spinach thrown in the stew at the last minute to make it a complete dish. If you plan to serve this dish to dinner guests, do it the day before, leaving yourself just the frying of fish to do on the night.
You’ve got two options when it comes to the tomatoes: either buy the ‘sun-blush’ version in olive oil, or do them yourself. Personally, I would advise doing them yourself, but then I would - I enjoy cooking. I also enjoy the way the house smells when they’re in the oven, I enjoy counting all the extra money I have in my purse as a result of doing them myself and I also enjoy being smug about it. Incidentally, if you do extra, store them in a clean jar and fill it with good olive oil, they’ll keep in the fridge for a good couple of weeks and are a ready-made pick-me-up for pasta.
As for the butter beans - buy a tin. You won’t have any difficulty finding them, you don’t have to cover the house in Post-It notes to remind yourself to soak them, but most importantly the results in a tin are consistent.
400g tinned butter beans
2 average (tennis ball size) onions
6 fat cloves of garlic
A pinch of saffron*
300ml chicken stock
300ml tomato passata
8 ripe tomatoes, normal size, on the vine preferably
1 table spoon of chopped fresh parsley
1 x 200g chorizo sausage
Pre-heat the oven to 110⁰C.
Wash and dry the tomatoes. Halve them, nip out the green bits if they offend you, then quarter them.
Add them to a bowl, douse them in olive oil and crush two cloves of garlic on top.
Toss them around with your hands, then arrange them in a baking tray cut sides facing upwards and season generously with salt and black pepper.
Shove them in the oven and leave them for a couple of hours to dry out. They’ll reduce in size by about half and look just like the ones you can buy in jars, but’ll taste ten times better.
So then, have all your ingredients ready before you start:
- Peel the remaining garlics and slice them thinly.
- Halve the onions and slice them too.
- Slice the chorizo into rounds, about the thickness of a pound coin.
- Make up the chicken stock if you’re using a cube.
- Rinse and drain the butter beans in a colander.
Heat a sauté pan over a medium heat. Fry the chorizo until it takes on some colour on both sides, then remove with a slotted spoon leaving you with its oil, in which to fry the garlic.
Throw the garlic in and watch it carefully; whip it out as soon as it starts to colour. Again, leave the oil behind in which to fry the onion.
Turn the heat up for the onion, and stir fry it in the chorizo oil - think Singapore noodles. Keep it moving and get the edges browning whilst still retaining its crispness.
When you’re happy with the colour you’ve achieved, turn the heat back down and add the chorizo back in along with the garlic, add the saffron and smoked paprika, give it one quick stir and then add the chicken stock and passata.
Bring it up to a gentle simmer and add the butter beans. When it has reached temperature again, taste it for seasoning. If you’re preparing this in advance for another day, then you’ve gone as far as you can for now. Simply reheat it on the stove.
Add the tomatoes a few minutes before serving to heat through, along with the chopped parsley. If you want to add spinach, stir it in at the last minute and let it wilt in the heat of the sauce.
You could quite easily enjoy this by itself, or with a good thick piece of nice white fish, cod for example, just pan fried and served on top of the stew. Chicken wouldn’t be out of the question either.
*Saffron is impossible to weigh, and a ‘pinch’ is open to misinterpretation. Too much saffron can kill a dish the same as too much chilli or salt, so err on the side of caution - start with about enough to cover the face of a 10p piece in a signal layer, and give it time to do its thing before making a judgment on whether to add anymore.