Good for the heart

Posted by Ed Tue, 29 Dec 2009 11:54:00 GMT

Kidney bean casserole


A thick creamy bean stew. Eat with rice and, for example, avocado salad.


  • 500g dried kidney (red) beans
  • 2 large onions
  • head of garlic
  • chillies or harissa to taste
  • spices (e.g. cumin, coriander seeds etc)
  • 50 - 100g cured pork product e.g. bacon, pancetta or chorizo etc if you like to eat pork
  • green herbs (e.g parsley, thyme, bay leaf or bouquet garni)


  • a pressure cooker, or else a large (at least 4 litre) heavy pan with a lid.


  • soak the beans overnight in cold water. (If you forget this, you can use the 'quick method' which is more or less equivalent: bring the beans to the boil in plenty of water and boil for 2 mins. Turn off the heat and leave covered for 60 mins.)

  • chop the onions finely and saute gently in plenty of (ideally olive) oil for approx 30 mins until golden

  • add the garlic, chillies and spices to the onions for the final two minutes

  • chop the bacon, chorizo and add to the onion / garlic / herb mixture.

  • meanwhile, change the water and bring the beans to the boil. In a big pan (approx 4 litres) the water should come up to the 3/4 level. Boil for 10 mins (This is important if you are using a slow cooker which will be cooking at less than 100°C. See Wikipedia if more information.).

  • add the mixture to the beans once they have been boiling for 2 mins.

  • cook in the pressure cooker for 2.5 hours or in a conventional pan for 6-8 hours or until the beans are soft and the creamy. If you don't have a pressure cooker and your pan is oven safe you can bring the beans to a boil on the hob and then cook overnight in the oven on a very low heat (e.g 80°C)

  • once the beans are done, if you find that the liquid is rather watery rather than thick and creamy, decant a good portion of the liquid to a heavy wide pan and reduce over a high flame. Add the reduced liquid back to the beans when nice and thick.

  • now add salt to taste. NB: it's important not to add salt (or acidic ingredients such as tomatoes) until after the beans are cooked. Otherwise the beans and especially their skins stay tough.


You can use this technique with any other variety of beans which you have or fancy, e.g. black beans, butter beans, flagelot. Adjust the herbs, spices, pork product as you like. Some suggestions:

  • whole cumin seeds or a mixture of ground cumin and coriander seeds
  • harissa
  • raw cashews
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves if you find you don't have any fresh green herbs
  • fresh thyme (loads)
  • fresh coriander (be sparing)
  • baby dried figs (with butterbeans)
  • smoked paprika (with butterbeans or chickpeas)
  • ends of proscuttio or ham which you pick up cheap from the deli

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