Black Bean, Chorizo and Sweet Potato Chilli

It’s taken me ages to find black beans. They’re like the unicorn of UK supermarkets, yet they seem to be readily available in the US. Pretty much every supermarket I go in I like to take a quick wander down the canned vegetables isle but no luck, until I came across them in the ultra posh Booths in Ilkley and was so giddy I immediately bought two cans even though they were an eye-watering £1 each. That’s pricey for beans, come on.

Anyway. The first thing I’ve made with these is this chilli, it felt like most natural dish for them but I definitely want to try using them in stews, maybe with some beef, y’know… Anyway, this was gorgeous. The sweet potato and spicy chorizo work so well together, and then the beans added a really savoury bulkiness that meant you can comfortably eat this without a carby side. Or you can if you want. Either way it’s really good.

I find when you cook chorizo for a long time, it can loose its texture and taste and kind of go to mulch. So this recipe puts half the chorizo into the pan at the start, and then adds the remaining half at the end, so you can get the flavour payoff of the slow cook without losing the nicer texture.

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Chicken Chorizo Stew Bowl

Sweet and Smoky Spanish Chicken Stew

I love spending my Sundays with my slow cooker. I know most people will use theirs while they’re at work – lobbing in ingredients and rushing out of the door. Not me, I like to enjoy the smell and remove the lid (ill-advised, I know) and poke around inside. I can’t help myself.

The one thing I haven’t managed to grasp is the amount of liquid needed for stews, since the liquid doesn’t reduce in the same way as in a normal oven when you remove the lid. If anyone has any advice on this it would be greatly appreciated!

Anyway, the recipe. Why sweet and smoky? The red peppers and butternut squash make it sweet, and the chorizo and smoked paprika make it ~smoky~.

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Chicken thighs are my new meaty hero, at less than £2 for a pack of 6 in Lidl, bone in. They’re great for slow cooking and stews as the darker meat doesn’t dry out as much as the breast, and the bones make a lovely stock. I add my chorizo half an hour or so towards the end to stop it from over cooking too, I find slow-cooked chorizo can loose its flavour and get a weird texture.

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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Shoulder Sandwiches

I’ve done this once before but I didn’t take nearly enough  pictures, and the previous attempt was also in the oven with a fairly hefty 4.5kg bone-in shoulder, whereas this one was a meagre 2kg bone-out jobby from Tesco.

You get a lot of pork for 2kg, I tell you. We made this on New Year’s Eve as part of a gourmet 3 course meal in, as I was still recovering from the devil’s illness – tonsillitis. I managed to have it three times over December and January and I’m still not 100% yet, fortunately Christmas Day itself was illness free!

Anyway. A 2kg pork shoulder is plenty for two hungry people – it would feed four easily with leftovers. We have LOTS of pork in the freezer, but that’s only a good thing really isn’t it?

I’ll leave my coleslaw recipe for another day but it really does pay to make this stuff yourself. It is SO easy, and tastes way nicer than what you get in shops. I typically slice cabbage, red onion and grated carrot and toss in a bit of lemon juice, mayonnaise, creme fraiche or yoghurt and a dash of mustard. Serve on white baps with sweet potato fries or salad as a side.

 

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Wintery chicken, macaroni and leek casserole

What is the actual difference between stew and casserole? I would love to know. Answers on a postcard please.

This is actually my dads recipe, handed down and reinvented for my partner who can’t digest celery. If you can digest celery, please do put it in because it’s wonderful.

The lovely thing about this casserole is that it tastes different every time. Depending on your stock; your chicken; the wine, no two versions are the same which I love.

You can use any part of chicken on the bone or off the bone, obviously on the bone takes longer but yields a tastier broth. I like to use a mix of chicken breast and thigh, usually three of each to produce enough for about 4 meals from one pot. It’s hard to make a small amount!

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