On Sunday we Christened Victoria's slow cooker with an epic stew. January calls for rich, warming dishes. Oozing with depth and not without a hint of gluttony. If anyone accuses you of over eating just tell them your about to hibernate.
This stew is one of my favourites and is heavily lifted from Nigel Slater. But I've done it so many times and adapted it so much I reckon it is now firmly mine.
Here's what you need to do.
First things first, buy a slow cooker. They are awesome. Once you've got one, turn it on. And then flame some red peppers as so...
I adore the smell of them burning over the gas flame almost as much as I love the colours when you photograph them.
Then sweat a shed load of onions until they are beginning to colour and then add a good couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika. The one in the red tin is excellent. They sell it in Brindisa. Chuck in some finely chopped garlic and watch the pan turn red and feel your nostrils stand to attention. It's a captivating smell that I'd dearly miss if I ever stopped cooking.
Pour 3 tins of butter beans (having rinsed them first) and as much pasatta as you can get your hands on into the slow cooker. If you run out of pasatta don't be afraid of unleashing a few tins of chopped tomatoes. I bought some great tomato "sauce" in Borough Market which was idea. Otherwise just use the stuff from a carton as it is less heavy to cart home from the shops.
Add the parika'd onions to the stew along with the peppers. Pop the lid on and bring up to the heat. Once it has been simmering for a while add your chorizo. Ideally it should be a soft picante version. This will ensure a rich, spicy, oily stew which makes you yearn to be called Juan. If it just the bog standard hard chorizo that is only slightly spicy, you'll want to add some chili. Our chorizo came from the French market that was held in Balham just before Christmas. It was packed full of flavour which really held its own later.
Replace the lid and allow to burble for 5 or 6 hours. We went for a coffee, played squash and went cycling whilst our stew was cooking. But this is optional. As is the playlist below. But I find Four Tet, A Guy Called Gerald, Mr Scruff and Massive Attack are ideal for cooking to on a Sunday.
Once you've returned from your day out you'll be rewarded with a scarlet stew, burning with flavour and bursting with a heady smell of tomatoes, pork fat and paprika. It's a sure fire way to make people hungry. It's quite a good idea to take the lid off the slow cooker for the final half an hour or so to allow some of the water to evaporate. This helps to concentrate the flavour and make the stew a bit thicker. Test the seasoning and add chili and smoked paprika as appropriate.
You've now got a few options:
1. Serve as a soup with some crusty bread
2. Boil some rice and treat it as a chili con carne but with out the mince
3. Or do what we did and make some mashed potato, steam some cabbage and poach and egg. I've tried it each and every way but can proudly report that the egg and mashed potato option is by far the best way. The egg yolk bursts over the stew and adds an extra layer of flavour, whilst the cabbage adds a welcome burst of green, iron to an otherwise very red plate of food.
Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and be prepared to dish out seconds. It's such a delicious meal. And better still it matures brilliantly. I've had it at work for lunch twice since and it has been even better each time.
If you are as obsessed with chorizo as I am, here are a few other ways of cooking with it: