Saturday, 10 July 2010


After the fourth of July has passed and its shocking lack of festivities here in London...I started thinking about "American" foods and my brain turned to thoughts of sustainable food staples from other times and places.
Humble foods like Bangladeshi dahl with rice (see blog post from June 2009) or Malian peanut sauce with millet ( see blog post august 2009). Simple, tasty and good old fashion black beans came to mind and all their south of the border convoluted and maladapted influences made me really hungry. The end result was me making one of my favorite summer comfort beans served simply with tortillas, salsa and guacamole.

2 slices of bacon, fine diced
1 carrot, peeled and fine dice
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and fine dice ( use extra onion if you don't have fennel)
1 stalk celery, washed and fine dice
1 onion, peeled and fine dice
1 pepper, washed and fine diced
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2T tomato paste( puree)
2T cumin seeds (toasted if you can)
1 chile pepper, seeded and fine diced
1 tomato fine diced
1/2 bunch coriander, washed and separated into fine diced stems and fine diced leaves
2 cans black beans ( or 2/3 cup dried and then soaked and boiled till soft)
1/2 can or bottle of beer
1 lime
2 stalks, spring onion, washed and finely diced

  1. In a sauce pot, sweat bacon over medium heat till fat renders out and bacon is crispy.
  2. Add carrot, fennel, celery, onion, pepper, bay leaf and garlic to the bacon and sweat down slowly for 10-15 minutes till soft and translucent. If pan starts to brown donate a splash of beer to it!!!
  3. Add the tomato puree and cumin seeds and cook further 3 minutes.
  4. Add chile pepper and chopped tomato and cook further five minutes.
  5. Add coriander stems and let simmer till this mixture is very dry, soft and roasty looking.
  6. Add cooked beans and beer and let simmer 20 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper if necessary, a squeeze of lime and garnish with the reserved spring onion and coriander leaves.
As I eluded to at the beginning...beans are a great staple and plentiful, and if you do your homework or care to wonder...they are very sustainable in comparison to that big old feedlot beef many think is a staple to their diet. So make them a integral part of your weekly menu is a variety of ways...
  1. Served cold and tossed on your salad and eaten with some tortilla chips,
  2. Old school London style beans on toast( maybe add 1 T molasses to the finished product)
  3. Fry up the leftover beans and mash up for refried beans
  4. Roll beans up into a burrito with rice, shredded fresh carrots and onion, salsa, and a splash of cheese
  5. Use as a healthy side dish for your grilled pork or lamb chops
  6. Serve with some grilled corn and a fresh salad
  7. Add some vegetable broth and fresh spinach to the dish and turn into a hearty healthy soup
  8. Served with salsa, guacamole and some fresh tortillas
In other words, in the immortal words from Cool Hand Luke....GET AT DEM BEANS!!!!

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