Tag Archives: comfort food

Baked bean and ham pie

Branston bean and ham pie

Autumn is most definitely upon us, the nights and mornings are chillier, the gloves have been dug out from the back of the drawer and the lawn is more leaves than grass. It’s time for dinner to be warm and comforting once more. One of the comfort foods we always turn to in this house is baked beans so I was thrilled when Branston asked me to develop a recipe around their beans.

Branston baked beans

Branston launched their baked beans 10 years ago this month and they have been rated by the Good Housekeeping Institute as the best tasting beans of all the leading brands and in taste tests 4 out of 5 people prefer the taste of Branston’s beans. This might be something to do with Branston putting more tomatoes into their sauce.

This pie makes a substantial family meal, with the beans as the star. The beans’ tomato sauce means that there is no need to make a gravy. I served it with a swede and sweet potato mash that was perfect to soak up the juices, but really all you need is the pie.

Branston beans and ham pie

If you would like the pie to be even more substantial you can crack a couple of eggs onto the filling before you put the pastry on top. I made it with the eggs when Granny came round for tea, but didn’t for last night’s tea as my eldest is away with school for the week and my youngest turns her nose up at eggs. The pie was well received both times with second helpings being devoured eagerly. Even Granny, who said she wasn’t keen on beans before she dug in, ate every last mouthful! A ringing endorsement, I’d say.

For the pastry
250g plain flour
125g cold butter, cut into cubes
7-8 tbsp cold water

For the filling
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely diced
1 onion finely diced
350g cooked ham, diced (or you can use bacon rashers, cut into small pieces, or bacon lardons, just fry them with the vegetables)
1 x 410g tin Branston baked beans
½ tsp oregano
pepper to taste

1 egg and a splash of milk for egg wash

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°c, gas mark 6, or use the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga.

Make the pastry by placing the flour into a large bowl and adding the cubes of butter. Rub in using your fingertips until the butter is evenly distributed. Pour most of the water in (you might not need all of it) and draw a knife through the pastry until it starts to come together. If you need more water add it gradually.  Bring the dough together into a ball using your hands and wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for twenty minutes to chill. You can also make the pastry in a food processor by whizzing the flour and butter together briefly and then add most of the water and whizz until it all just starts to come together.

For the filling, sauté the carrot, celery and onion (and bacon if you are using that instead of ham) in a large frying pan with a tablespoon of oil until the vegetables are soft. This will take about ten minutes over a gentle heat. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Once cool, add the ham, the oregano, a touch of pepper and the baked beans and mix well.

Cut one-third of the pastry off the ball and put to one side. Roll the larger piece on a lightly floured work surface to the size of your pie dish. My pie dish in the photo above measures 20cm. Then line the pie dish with the pastry. Pour in the filling. If you want to add a few eggs then crack them on top of the filling at this point.

Lightly beat the egg for the egg wash in a small bowl or cup and add a splash of milk. Using a pastry brush, brush a little egg wash around the edge of the pastry where the lid will sit to help with the seal. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry  on a lightly floured work surface to fit. Place on top of the dish and, using your thumbs, press all along the edge to make a good seal.  Using a sharp knife  poke two holes in the top of the pie to let the steam escape and trim the excess pastry from the edge of the pie. If there is enough trimmings, re-roll and cut out a few leaves to decorate the top. Place these on top of the pie and brush the entire surface of the pie with the egg wash. Place in the centre of the oven or on the floor of the roasting oven of the Aga and cook for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is piping hot. Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving.

#LoveBranstonBeans

Disclosure: I was commissioned to develop this recipe for Branston Baked Beans. All the opinions are my own and are honest. 

 

 

Chorizo, lentil and bean stew

It’s mid October and the light for taking photos is lousy, but the weather (cold and blustery) demands comfort food of the highest order.  Mr OC had phoned at lunchtime asking if I had any recipes for lentils that he could make for his lunch the next day.  I took this as a hint that he wanted me to make something with lentils that he could take for his lunch. So we had some of this for tea with a pumpkin and potato mash and he took the rest in his flask today.

Serves 4

100g chorizo, diced chunkily
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 sprig rosemary, chopped finely
4 sage leaves, chopped finely
1 bay leaf
a glug of Madeira or Marsala or sherry (optional)
400g tin of tomatoes
100g split red lentils
400g tin of beans (I used three bean salad but you could use cannellini, kidney or whatever you like or have)
600ml vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste at the end of cooking

Method

Fry the onion in a little oil in a large saucepan for a few minutes until starting to go translucent.  Add the carrots and the garlic and continue to fry for a few more minutes until the carrot is beginning to become tender.  Add the chorizo and the herbs and fry until the oil begins to leach from the chorizo.  Pour in a good glug of Madeira wine (if using) and continue to cook until that has almost evaporated.  Pour in the tomatoes, the beans, lentils and the stock.  Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for at least 40 minutes (I left it in the simmering oven of the Aga for two hours).  Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread or pumpkin and potato mash like I did last night.  A meal fit for a king, or a man who likes his stew.

 

Sausage and borlotti casserole

Autumn it seems has arrived.

With autumn comes the renewed need to eat warming stews and casseroles. Hooray for autumn.

When I was wandering around Ludlow Food Festival last week I spotted some very delicious looking venison, port and thyme sausages at the Legges of Bromyard stand. I couldn’t resist.  Then it occurred to me that in about an hour’s time I was going to eating quite a few sausages and they might not be the best thing to take home for my tea this particular evening.  So, as I walked out of the castle grounds and through the thronging crowds of the Castle Square I walked past an empty butchers shop ( I hope they had a very busy stall somewhere within the festival grounds).  I popped in for a hefty piece of rump for tea that particular night and saved my sausages for the next night. What a treat they were too.

We have some borlotti beans in the garden.  I had bought some Wenlock Edge Farm baked ham from the festival ready for the fidget pie I was going to be baking the next day and there is ALWAYS a bottle of red wine sitting by the Aga (it’s a very bad day if there isn’t). This was the result, served with a steaming pile of mash.  Hooray for autumn indeed.

Serves 2 hungry people

4 good quality sausages, venison if you can get them
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
½ dsp juniper berries (I used 1 dessertspoon but it was a little too overwhelming), lightly crushed
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 scant tsp dried thyme
300g fresh tomato chopped, or you could use a 400g can
100g ham or bacon diced
2 bay leaves
250g borlotti beans, fresh or canned
1 tbsp tomato puree
300ml red wine

Method

If you are using fresh borlotti beans then boil them in plenty of water until tender (10-15 minutes), then drain.

Brown the sausages in a little oil in a pan and remove to a plate.  Add the onion to the fat in the pan and fry until translucent and just beginning to tinge golden. Add the ham or the bacon and fry for a minute or two. Return the sausages back to the pan and add the juniper berries, thyme, bay leaves and borlotti beans. Add the wine and let it bubble for a minute or two.  Stir in the tomatoes and the tomato puree.  Season with pepper (you probably won’t need salt with the bacon and sausages, but taste at the end and add then if you do need it).  Bring everything to a simmer and cook slowly for about 40 minutes. If you want a thicker sauce, mix 2 tsp cornflour with a little water in a cup and then pour into the casserole and stir in well.  Allow to simmer for another five minutes before serving. Serve with mashed potato or cabbage.

PS I can’t claim credit for the leaf shot, that is Mr OC doing the fancy things he does with that camera of his.

 

Oxtail stew

I have never before made oxtail stew.  Shocking really.  I tend to buy shin of beef for a stew but I spotted two lovely pieces of oxtail in the butchers on saturday and thought it was about time I tried it. I have always thought that oxtail was a cheap cut, but the butcher says that it is comparatively expensive as it costs about the same price as shin but of course has more waste with the bone. It is also very popular this time of year and the cow only has one tail. So apparently it’s not the cheap option.  However, bones give better flavour and this stew was tasty. It was quite a lot more work than a shin stew though, as the oxtail gives a great deal of fat, almost a mugful in this case.  So you need to make it the day before, chill it, then scrape off the top layer of fat that will have solidified on the surface.  I then chose to take the meat off the bone before reheating to make it easier to eat at the table.  I like to eat a stew with a spoon.

Britain is having a miserable weather week, rain and dull skies so stew is a popular comfort food. This week I read about Wendy’s beef cheek stew, which will be next on my list to try I think.

You probably do need to have a slow cooker or an Aga to make this stew as it needs about 8 hours  simmering away and this may be costly in a normal oven.

This is a general guide, put more or less in as you feel and you could add potatoes or pulses to make it even more substantial.

Serves 4

1kg of oxtail, separated into pieces (they can come tied in a bundle)
2 onions, sliced
5 sticks of celery, sliced
4 carrots, sliced
50g (2oz) flour
50ml madeira or sherry
900 ml (1½ pints) of good beef stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried mixed herbs, or a bundle of fresh herbs if you have them to make a bouquet garni
salt and pepper

Method
Brown the meat well in a large casserole dish that is suitable for the hob and the oven, otherwise do the browning and cooking in a frying pan and then transfer it all to a casserole dish that is suitable for the oven or into a slow cooker. It is unlikely that you will need oil as the oxtail will release plenty of its own fat. Remove the meat to a plate. Add the vegetables to the pan  and cook until the onions are translucent and the carrot and celery are tender. Add the flour and stir well and cook for a minute or so.  Add the madeira or sherry and mix well and then gradually add the stock, stirring to make sure the flour is well combined into the gravy.  Add the meat back into the casserole dish, with any juices that may have gathered on the plate.  Add the herbs and season generously.  Bring to a gentle simmer and then place in a low oven (the simmering oven of the Aga) or into a slow cooker for about eight hours.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool before placing in the fridge overnight.  Skim off all the solidified fat and, if you wish, remove the meat from the bones.  Reheat the stew at a gentle pace until piping hot.  Serve in large warmed bowls with lots of bread.

Spanish sausage hotpot

Winter is a fabulous time for comfort foods, but not so fabulous for taking a picture of that food, so apologies for the poor quality of this photo and all photos from now until next summer.

Anyway, my local butcher has a wonderful selection of sausages and they are hard to beat taste wise. He does a spanish style sausage which has a lovely red hue and is imbued with paprika. To do this sausage justice I like to add it to a hot-pot flavoured with paprika and tomatoes.  This time I served it with plain boiled rice, but noodles, mash potato or cabbage would also be lovely as accompaniments.

6 spanish style sausages
1 onion, diced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
1 red chilli, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1 tsp root ginger, chopped finely
5 ready to eat dried apricots, quartered
1 tsp paprika
1 400g tin of butter beans in water, undrained
1 400g tin of plum tomatoes

Method
Pour a tablespoon of oil into a large casserole dish and add the sausages and fry over a medium heat until the sausages are browned all over. I do this on the bottom of the roasting oven of the Aga. Add the onions and cook for a few minutes, then add the pepper, chilli, garlic and ginger and cook again for a few minutes more until everything is gently softened. Add the paprika and cook for a minute.  Then pour in the beans and the water they are in and give everything a good stir.  Add the tomatoes and the apricots and season with pepper.

Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 40 minutes to 1 hour until the sauce has reduced a little.  Check for seasoning and serve with something that will mop up the juices.