Friday, 25 January 2008

rains means beans / 'My legume love affair'

Well, I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here in jolly old London we’ve had a pretty miserable start, weather-wise, to 2008.

Day after day after day after day of the wet stuff and lots of grey cloudy skies... It’s not good for the soul, that’s for sure.

Still, there are some upsides... One, it makes me riffle through the recipe books for some cheery, comforting, spirit-lifting nosh ideas. Obviously, I really don’t like spending my time doing that. ;)

Two, after said riffling, we then get to eat some joyous, cuddle-you-from-the-inside kind of food.

Nigel Slater is probably one of the most prodigious creators of just this type of recipe – almost every dish he comes up with seems to be a culinary equivalent of a warm embrace.

This particular bean and bacon gratin from ‘our Nige’ is at the gastronomic bear-hug end of the spectrum, with a big kiss thrown in – rich, creamy, starchy, cheesy, filling, and very, very more-ish indeed. I’ve tweaked it a bit with a bit of wine to cut through the richness, and then some double cream to, er, add the richness back in again (actually, to make prevent the sauce from getting a bit dry).

Oh, and because this is a legume recipe, it’s also my entry to the appropriately named ‘My legume love affair’ challenge hosted by the lovely Well Seasoned Cook.

Here it is...

Ingredients:
1 large onion
2 tbsp olive oil
some thyme sprigs
smoked bacon (six chopped rashers) or equivalent quantity pancetta cubes
2 x 400g cans haricot beans (cannellini, flageolet, or possibly black-eyed beans would also work)
200g crème fraîche
3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

Optional extras: a glug of white wine, and a glug of double cream

1. Set the oven to 200C/gas mark 6
2. Peel onion, halve it then cut into thick slices.
3. Pour olive oil into deepish non-stick frying pan (I used a Le Creuset pot)
4. Cook onions till golden and soft, and then add leaves from the thyme sprigs and stir in
5. Put the bacon or pancetta into the pan and stir occasionally until ‘fragrant’ (it’s all lovely and fragrant by this stage, so I’m not sure that this is Nigel’s most helpful instruction ever) but not browned. (And then add in your glug of wine at this stage, if you’re using it, and bubble off the alcohol.)
6. Drain beans, and rinse in a sieve under cold tap.
7. Tip the beans into the onions and bacon, then add the crème fraîche (and double cream, if using) and stir it all till it’s bubbling gently.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
9. Put in a baking dish, grate cheese over the top, then bake for 30 minutes until the top browns, crisps a little, and bubbles around the edges.

This is so filling that you won’t actually need anything with it. But what’s need got to do with it? We’re talking about having hugs here, not air kisses. If you want something, I suggest a simple green leaf salad and a fresh baguette to mop up the delicious, creamy cheesey sauce.

bean and bacon gratin 1

bean and bacon gratin 2

Oh, and enjoy, obviously...

33 comments:

Peter M said...

Oooh, that looks gooey good, great colour on the top!

nicisme said...

This is perfect comfort food, rich and creamy! How could one not enjoy this!

Mary Coleman said...

Brilliant. Gastronomic bear hug indeed!!!!! Great blog.

Lisa said...

Gorgeous! I'm glad I found your blog; it's wonderful. I must try this gratin (I'm a bean lover too).

Lydia said...

Great dish for the cold, snowy weather we're having here in New England!

Tablebread said...

I definitely don't eat enough beans at least the non-canned variety. This looks absolutely amazing!

Simply...Gluten-free said...

Yum! Definate comfort food! Beautiful.

Bri said...

I love it "gastronomic bear-hug". What a great term. I made a dish tonight that would fit that description. Since it was vegetarian, I guess it's called a shepardess' pie. The caramelized cheese on top of your dish looks so scrumptious. Yum!

Cinnamonda said...

Reading your post made me hungry!:) The gratin looks lovely. I will keep this recipe in mind for later. And thanks for visiting my blog!

Tiina

thepassionatecook said...

gotta love that! since we're enjoying the same weather (although today is pretty sunny), it's not surprising that I am craving this... perfect recipe for some more miserable days ahead... lovely!

Sylvie said...

Ooohh, that looks like a lot of ooey-gooey cheesy goodness. Yum!

Kevin said...

That looks so good! Cheese bacon and beans...mmm...

Pixie said...

Wonderful comfort food, sure to brighten up anyone's day. :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Your photos are so beautiful! It's making me crave lunch and it's only 8:50am here in Sao Paulo... ;)

Heather said...

Oh, man that looks really good! Toe-curling good.

Lucy said...

It's a stunning dish, to be sure.

Ah, Nigel....

Don't you just want to grab him and kiss him?

Emiline said...

I'm just admiring your beautiful pictures.
I've seen several posts for this event; I kind of wished I had entered. Oh, well.

Good job on the beans!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Thanks, everyone, for dropping by - lovely to receive your comments. I do hope some of you try this dish - it really is very scrummy indeed!

Jules said...

Oooh the perfect comfort dish. I hope the gratin goes well tonight.

eatme_delicious said...

Oh my that looks so so good!! Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

giz said...

I could just live on the crunchy bits on the top

Joy said...

Yum. That last photo is making me really, really hungry. I love Nigel too; his recipes are so comforting. I saw him coming out of our local Italian deli a couple of months ago and if I hadn't have been on my way to work I would have followed him home just to watch him cook!

Gigi said...

OMG! This dish has my mouth watering! The cheesy browned top is out of this world. I must make this soon.

Gattina said...

bacon and cheese! What a great combo with the beans.

Sophie said...

That looks absolutely gorgous! And reasonably healthy if you go for half fat creme fraiche. Which Nigel book is it from please? I don't remember seeing it...

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Hi Sophie - it's not in any recipe book, I'm afraid. It came on a recipe card free with the Observer magazine a few weeks ago.

Sophie said...

No problem, I shall take my laptop into the kitchen and use your version (it obviously turned out beautifully!)

Lisa said...

Oh wow! I know what I'm going to be cooking at the first cold snap in Sydney! I can't believe I'm getting excited about winter!!

Bellini Valli said...

What an inspired way to serve up those beans!!!

TNelson said...

This looks so good! I've saved to my folder to try. I don't try different things enough and this looks lie a good place to start!

Spice Rack said...

Oh I love Parmesan...I really love the dish, even if I look at it many times, my mouth still waters. These kind of dishes are very perfect for dinner, I love its flavor especially when you top it with herbs and spices from the spice rack.

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