Yesterday, the day on which I nearly froze, I started thinking (quite a lot actually) about comfort food. The very words start the melting down process but the sight of a piping hot bowl of deliciousness? Nothing better.
The definition of "comfort food", so says Wikipedia, is not only food that is typically inexpensive, uncomplicated, and easy to prepare but also something that evokes pleasant associations of childhood. It also tells of how comfort food will vary depending on from where in the world we originate. For example in Italy, people will reach for pizza or pasta; In Japan, a bowl of miso soup; Mexico, it may be tacos and enchiladas; Ireland, Irish stew with soda bread; China, congee; and so on and so on.
In this country some might say bangers and mash, boiled eggs and soldiers, steamed puddings and rice pudding. But for me? Good old baked beans! And, it would appear, the children are following suit ...
A little untimely perhaps this post may be, but on bonfire night we went to one of the local displays. It was wonderful but I think what excited the children more, was the fact that they were going to eat their supper there too. Baked beans, straight from the flask and served in a tupperware container in the Great Outdoors! How decadent is that?!
I make them quite often, in large quantities, and freeze portions for two per bag so there's always a useful standby when the time arises. Canned baked beans have so much sugar in them and, anyway, this is a great way of sneaking something in that the children wouldn't ordinarily choose to eat (such as swede). I vary certain ingredients depending on what I have to hand, for instance instead of swede, I often use butternut squash which works just as well. By cooking them for longer on a lower heat, the beans break down really well so you end up with a satisfyingly creamy sauce. Herbs are a good addition, such as thyme leaves added at the start or parsley thrown in at the end and if you feel the need for salt (or the sugar), then add these to taste right at the end too.
The only forward planning needed here is to remember to soak the beans overnight.
baked beans - our way
1 kg haricot beans
1 tblsp goose fat
2 medium onions, chopped
1 small swede, cubed
1 leek, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
3 tblsp tomato puree
Soak the beans in cold water overnight. Next morning, drain, rinse well and set aside. In a large casserole dish heat the goose fat, add the onion, swede and leek and sweat on a very low heat until soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook an extra 5 minutes or so until beginning to break down. Next add the beans and mix well.
Add boiling water to cover by at least 2 cm and stir in the tomato puree. Transfer to the oven and cook for approx 2 1/2 hours at 125C, checking after a couple of hours to make sure it's not drying up, in which case add more hot water.
Once the beans are cooked, stir a few times to release that satisfying creaminess and enjoy!
Yee haa !
Tell me what your idea of comfort food is?