There are an awful lot of cooking blogs out there, and they are a strange mixture. Some people post endless photographs of what they have been eating, demonstrating their skills in photography by portraying aubergine from 9 different angles, while others jet off on trips and record their experiences at restaurants in New York and Shanghai, which is great so long if you happen to be in New York, but not all that much use when you need to cook dinner.
But the reason they perk their blogs up with travelogues, photo journals or long, rambling monologues like the one you’re reading now, is because cooking regularly ends up being quite repetitive sooner or later (or maybe that’s just me). And I think I’m coming to the conclusion that most of us just have one main dish that we just re-do in a variety of different ways, whether we’re aware of it or not. Even Jamie Oliver does, clearly, because his new cookbook of “British classics” does look suspiciously like a number of his other books – and he was a man who I thought would never run out of ideas.
This is, then, apparently my staple dish, which involves onions, peppers, pulses and sausage of some kind, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that you may have seen it before. But hey, I cooked dinner for ten last night, and nobody except a Masterchef finalist is going to even attempt to cook a decent steak for ten – let alone be able to afford one – so you get something that was cooked in a roasting tin instead.
If that doesn’t sound like it’s for you, then you can always go and read Ottolenghi’s blog instead, I suppose, but if you can afford to buy sumac and zahir on a daily basis then I’m surprised you’re even reading this, or maybe you’re just paying somebody else to read it for you…
What am I talking about? Ah yes, Sausage and Butterbean Pot. This came from The Ginger Pig Meat Book, which is incredible, but all the recipes in it take about four hours, £50 and an aga to complete, and I don’t currently have any of those things, so I cooked my staple dish instead. It was delicious, though.
Here’s how it’s done. This feeds 6, and you’ll need four red peppers, two large onions, some fresh thyme, 12 decent sausages with good flavours (buy chorizo or toulouse or merguez, because they add flavour), 500g butterbeans, which were supposed to be dried but I used tinned, some tomato puree and some olive oil.
Heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius, and when it’s hot put a roasting tin with two teaspoons of olive oil into it. Meanwhile, heat up your butterbeans in their liquid on the hob for four or five minutes and then leave them for a while.
Chop up your onions and peppers pretty finely and then put them, with the sausages, in the hot oil of the roasting tin, making sure they’re coated with a bit of black pepper and some wild thyme if you have it. That goes on the middle shelf of the oven for twenty minutes.
Twenty minutes later, turn your sausages over, add the butterbeans and their juice and some tomato puree, more spices to taste, fresh thyme and anything else you want to put in (I’m sure I put a bit of paprika, some sage and some sugar). Cover with foil, put it back in the oven.
Twenty minutes after that, take the foil off, turn your sausages, put them back in the oven for ten minutes to crisp it up – I actually put them back for 30 minutes because I wanted the sausages a bit crispier – and serve with decent bread and mashed potato.
I shouldn’t do this down, as it was actually really tasty, and didn’t taste exactly like everything I always cook – for one thing, it was a whole lot less spicy, and also surprisingly light. It was good autumn food, especially because yesterday was freezing, but it was definitely a meal to share with friends, and one that was really completed by company…