Friday, August 29, 2008

White Bean and Bacon Stew

After a few days in France where the sun shone every day - I am aware that in summer sunshine from Friday to Tuesday is not exceptional but it seems nothing short of a miracle with all this bleak weather in London. It has been grey and overcast since our return with that miserable half light that is neither day nor dusk, dragging spirits into the dirt. In France we had lunches out and barbecue nights - wearing shorts! In London it's back at work for daytimes and cardies at night.

I had some smoked bacon pieces in the freezer from a couple of weeks ago so decided if bleak was to be the order of the week then perhaps autumnal food was the way to deal with it. A kind of matching food and weather rather than food and wine. I bought some dried white Argentinian beans - a white kidney bean grown in Argentina I'm guessing - and soaked them overnight with a plan to make a sort of frenchy peasant stew with flavour from the bacon and lots of vegetables. Robust ones like swede and celery and some duke of yorks red potatoes left from last week. And obviously garlic and herbs. I can't recommend it enough - cheered us no end!

White Bean & Smoked Bacon Stew
500g white kidney beans, soaked for 12 hours in cold water
300g smoked bacon pieces, fat and flesh separated and diced
Large swede, about 500g, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and sliced inot 1/2 cm rounds
4 ribs celery, washed and cut into pieces 2 or 3 cms long
1 onion, peeled, halved and studded with 4 cloves
Bouquet garni of bay leaf, celery leaves, parsley, thyme, sage leaf and rosemary
10 peppercorns
3 fat garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped
6 sprigs of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
500g new waxy potatoes, washed but not peeled and cut into quarters

Drain soaked beans and put into a very large pan with the diced bacon flesh and the clove studded onion and cover with water by about 2cms. Bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, heat the bacon fat in a heavy based pan till it starts to melt then add the sliced swede. Cook, stirring occasionally, till the swede is golden and slightly crispy and the bacon is the same.

Skim the white foam from the beans then add the swede and bacon, carrots, celery, bouquet garni and peppercorns. Bring to a simmer then cover the pan and cook for about an hour. Add the potatoes, parsley and garlic and about a tablespoon of salt. Continue to cook, uncovered, for another half hour or so till the potatoes are cooked. Check and adjust the seasoning.

Serve in deep bowls. Crusty bread optional.

This makes a lot! We've got three more servings in tubs in the freezer for other times.

Don't be put off by using the bacon fat - it is the only oil in the whole dish and, because it is all cooked in water it is in fact very light, sort of delicate and robust at the same time. Perfect for bleak summer nights.

1 comment:

Sophie said...

Hi :),

We would like to feature your stew on our blog and possibly our digital-recipe reader, too.

Please email if interested. Thanks :)

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