When down at the shack in France we enjoy making recipes using the local white beans – these same beans are used in the traditional Cassoulet.
Often we have the luxury of having time to use the dried beans, soaking them in advance and cooking slowly to allow the flavours to be absorbed. They are a traditional option in our region, and very economical and when catering for large groups which is not to be sniffed at.
Last night I was sitting on the 59 bus on my way home from work, it was stationary in the middle Waterloo Bridge (what a view! Controversially, I say to you, that it is the finest view in all the world). I thought about some lovely beans and delicious fish. Feel free to listen along while you read…
It was well after 6 by the time I was shuffling round our ridiculous supermarket, I say ridiculous because its the biggest waste of space, but if ‘someone’ had opened their deli, that would be an infinitely preferable alternative, but ‘they’ haven’t.
Monkfish was the only viable option in the ridiculous supermarket – I do make every effort to use alternatives, in both the fish and the supplier, we have a great fishmonger stall along the road in Pimlico that we use for most occasions, however, this is a Tuesday and I have to resort to that which is local. Monkfish is lovely though, and it’s ‘allowed’ just not all the time.
The mainstays of my store cupboard beans: a can of cannellini beans or butter beans, a can of tomatoes and in all other respects it is a moveable feast.
I had in mind, a sort of spanish thing, with some fish for speed…
Walking into the house at 6.25, we were eating the stew at the ‘garden’ table at 7:20…. there were two pairs of hands, but this is one of the most simple and quick meals.
Spanish style Monkfish and Bean Stew
Serves 3 – we know this because we ate it and have a portion left over…
For the beans:
1 400g can of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.
1 400g can of chopped tomatoes
1 cup of frozen garden peas
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium onion diced
1/2 red or yellow pepper chopped
2 stems of fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 large or 2 small ( about 110g) raw chorizo sausages, skinned and broken into small clumps (you can leave this out if you do not eat meat (as Karl-Heinz doesn’t so I’m always thinking of alternatives), I recommend you increase the paprika and fry it with a little oil to replicate the warmth given by the chorizo, I would then add some cubed aubergine and/or courgette to the pan and let them absorb the flavoured oil, take them out as with the chorizo and continue as below.
1/2 glass of white wine – optional
1/3 of the tomato can of water.
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper – ours was a hot version you will need to adjust this to taste. Ideally the dish has just a rounded warmth to it.
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp sugar
6 grinds of black pepper.
For the fish – any meaty white fish works – hake would be fab, pollack also, we used monkfish fillets that we cut into medallions about 1.5 inches thick..
Firstly fry of the chorizo in a saucepan until it releases it’s oils, remove from the pan and set aside.
Add a glug of oil to the pan, and add the onions and fry until softened but not brown. Pour in the wine and reduce.
Next add the garlic and peppers, coat in the oil and soften slightly then add the smoked paprika and cayenne pepper before adding the tomatoes. Bring the tomatoes to a steady bubble and add the beans and the thyme.
Now season, add the sugar and leave to bubble away, partially covered for about 15 /20 minutes. The consistency should not be watery but it should have a nice loose stewy feel. Next add the peas (these lighten the dish when all beans can be a bit heavy).
Sit the monkfish on top of the beans and cover with: if you are Rocket, a cartouche (a circle of greaseproof paper) and the saucepan lid – if you are me, just a lid..
Leave to allow the fish to steam in the warmth of the saucepan, if following our monkfish idea you will need 6 minutes, if using a hake stake possibly a bit longer – just until the pieces are no longer translucent and once they are warm through to the middle.
Serve with some crusty bread or not…