Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Chorizo, Bean, Butternut Squash and Pepper chilli

Now I know that this isn’t particularly festive and for that I apologise. I know that I owe you pictures of iced Christmas cakes, and truly meant to photograph my Christmas dinner for you, but couldn’t let you see the extent of my gluttony on that day. The shame just overtook me. I couldn’t even manage pudding! I know, I nearly died of shock myself. I have just made Nigella’s Christmas Morning Muffins, albeit a few days late as I had some cranberries and orange knocking around having failed to make her Cornbread stuffing from Feast before going home for Christmas. I got as far as making the cornbread, but just ended up eating it out of the baking tray. I know, I’m never going to stay in these jeans if I’m not careful. I think the cold means I’m burning off more calories though – if that’s not the case, just let me delude myself, at least until my favourite denim won’t do up.

Anyhow, I noticed that this has been on my ‘To cook’ list for ages now, which is a bit of a fib as I’ve been cooking and eating it regularly for the last couple of months.

It’s a Waitrose.com recipe and without wishing to be sycophantic, I have to say that the recipes on their website seem to be largely infallible. Their chicken, butternut squash and barley casserole is a favourite of mine, as are their banana and chocolate muffins and each time I try something new I seem to like it. Clearly I am a Waitrose girl at heart (albeit on an Asda salary!)

Much like the Lentil ragu of recent months this is one of those recipes that another foodie tried and recommended and as such it’s going great guns around the net. I have to say it’s shockingly easy, a complete one-pot dish and a great midweek dinner. Despite being a chilli, made as described it’s not at all hot. In fact each time I make it I actually think I should add more chilli, but haven’t remembered to as yet. I also haven’t served it with rice as I tend to find it has enough carby-ness (it’s a word) without any addition, although I did serve it with cornbread that I made up with every intention of making into a Nigella stuffing, but just necver got around to! I’m going to try a different version of cornbread tonight, one with a bit more kick as the plain Nigella version is at once salty and sweet and as such doesn’t quite sit right with me. I also omit the sugar as I find butternut squash plenty sweet by itself. Yes I know I routinely add maple syrup to soup, but it’s my blog, I’m allowed to be difficult. Anyway, that’s enough rambling, here’s the link to the recipe on the Waitrose site, and my annotated version below.

Chorizo, Bean, Pepper and Butternut Squash Chilli (with my annotations in italics)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
225g Spanish chorizo (from the deli counter), peeled and diced
1 large red chilli, chopped – I use one hotter chilli, de-seeded, but will up this to 2 next time.
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 butternut squash or pumpkin, about 500g peeled weight, deseeded and cut into 3-4cm dice – this works out at about half an average butternut squash, so I peeled and chopped the whole thing and froze one half for the next month.
410g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed – now for some unknown reason Asda only sell tinned beans in 300g tins so after much deliberating I just added 600g. Contrary to what I expected it didn’t taste unnecessarily ‘bulked out’ with beans, in the way I remember eating casseroles as a child so don’t worry about that.
20g pack fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped – Have I mentioned that I just buy those huge bunches of parsley, coriander and mint from the ‘ethnic veg’ section of the supermarket and freeze them so that I can just add fresh herbs when I need them. In the winter there’s nothing in the garden and to buy those little plastic packs of them is ridiculously expensive. Frozen taste just fine.


1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the chorizo and red chilli, and cook for a further minute until the chorizo releases its red juices.

2. Add the tomatoes, sugar, pepper and 150ml cold water. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the squash, cover and simmer for a further 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender. Finally, add the cannellini beans, simmer for 5 minutes and stir in the parsley. Serve immediately

I mentioned that I served it with cornbread, I also imagine it would be nice with tortillas, soured cream and lots of grated cheese. The recipe I used for the cornbread is below, next time I’m going to google for one that’s a bit more sure of itself in the savoury department

Cornbread (known as polenta in posh supermarkets)

175g cornmeal (polenta)
125g plain flour
45g caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
250ml full fat milk
1 egg
45g butter, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 200 C.

2. Grease your tin - I used a shallow pyrex dish, but think it would be nicer in one of my loaf tins.
3. Melt the butter and then add the milk and eggs, beat together.

4. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until combined(ish) - this is a bit like making muffins, it's never going to be perfect and that's fine.

5. Pour and scrape into your tin and bake, for 20 minutes.

As I said, I found this too boderline between salty and sweet (not that it stopped me eating it) and having googled a bit, it seems lots of recipes add chilli, creamed sweetcorn and cheese to make it more savoury, so consider this a work in progress.

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