Sometimes life gives one a bit of a wallop. It’s not nice, but it happens. And when it does, I want comfort food.
I lock the front door, put on my ugly trackie pants that make me look like a baby elephant, and hit the kitchen to whip up something that will make me feel all warm and fuzzy. Beans on toast is a great favourite for these times.
I soak some white beans, combine them with heavenly thick chunks of smoked pork, tomato, bay, garlic, thyme and a few other good things. In the oven it goes where it slowly bakes for a few hours until my house smells like home.
I figure most folks will consider me bonkers for going to such trouble for something so simple. So I’ve adapted this recipe to give you the same smokey richness – in under half an hour.
All you need is…
1 large brown or white onion, finely chopped
1 tbs lard (you can use olive oil instead, but I like the deep, rich basenote lard gives to this dish)
250g smoked pork rashers (the one from Enterprise is perfect), cut into big chunks of at least 2cm
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp tomato paste
¼ tsp smoked dry chillies (Woolies has, or use plain red chilli flakes)
1 large tin tomatoes (800g net mass – you can buy two standard ones, but this is more economical)
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped in half
1 large celery stalk, washed and chopped in half
2 bay leaves (preferably fresh but dry will do in a pinch)
3 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs light brown sugar (Demerara)
2 tins cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
extra virgin olive oil, for serving
flat-leaf parsley, for serving
Melt the lard in a saucepan and add the onions. Gently fry for a few minutes then add the smoked pork rashers. Fry until nicely caramelised (brown) on the outside. Add the garlic and fry briefly. Then add the tomato paste and fry for 2 minutes.
Next in goes the tinned tomatoes with juice, the carrot, celery, chilli flakes, salt, black pepper, thyme, bay, vinegar and sugar. Cook over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the bay, carrot, celery and thyme stalks. Add the beans and warm through. Adjust salt if need be. (I like my beans on toast with a lot of tomato, so I add only one tin of beans. But, to bulk it up and serve six, add a second tin.) Serve on toasted ciabatta or baguette. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter some parsley over for a fresh note. I also sprinkle some dry chilli flakes over, because some like it hot.