I am sat in my kitchen having returned home from work on the Tuesday that follows the last British summer bank holiday weekend. Not only does this day signal the end of the British summer it is also the day that the football transfer window closes. To many these two events could seem to be quite unrelated; however they would be wrong. To British people bank holidays are highly important events that we tend to place a high level of expectation on; despite knowing that they are nearly always a total let down due to adverse weather. Picnics and trips to the seaside are planned meticulously and endured despite the inevitable downturn in the conditions. Similarly transfer deadline day, as an Arsenal fan, is full of expectation that Arsene Wenger will finally accept that a new striker and holding midfielder must be purchased. As with the weather ruining bank holiday picnic plans; my deadline day was ruined by a stubborn Frenchman who refuses to buy the players the club needs to succeed in the Premier League. I should have known better than to get my hopes up; especially as I was stung on the inside of my lip by a wasp whilst at a barbecue on Sunday. In future I will pay attention to the signs that both bank holidays and transfer windows will leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. What does all of this have to do with lamb and spicy beans I hear you ask? Well nothing to be truthful but I just fancied sharing my thoughts with you. I actually had a very nice bank holiday weekend despite the wasp attack and the weather being pretty dire; the transfer window situation was bad however.
Now for the food
I’ve been cooking with lamb a lot recently. I find myself writing another post involving lamb cutlets as they were discounted at the supermarket and so I could not resist them. I decided to cook them with some beans as before but with a different feel to them. I suppose you could say that this is a sort of North African inspired dish; I cannot verify the truth in that statement but this is how it felt to me when I was making it. I’ve been planning a three bean something or other for a few weeks now. Originally the plan was for a summer three bean salad type thing; what I ended up with was this.
For the beans you will need three different types of bean otherwise it would not be a three bean stew. I went for butter beans, chick peas and black beans. I had no particular reason for choosing these I just felt that they each offered something a little different and I liked the contrast in colour the black beans provided. Alongside this you will need an onion, about three cloves of garlic, two tomatoes, and a tin/carton of chopped tomatoes. You will also want some spices such as coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne,and some dried chilli flakes plus some bay leaves and thyme. Start off by chopping your onions, garlic and tomatoes and adding to a pan in that order. Ensure that the onions are suitably softened before adding the other two. Next up are your ground dry spices, I would recommend a tablespoon of each. Fry these off before adding in the chopped tomatoes and about half as much again of water. Add your herbs and bring to the boil and season with sea salt before turning down to a simmer. Cover and allow this to cook for about 30 minutes and give it a taste to check your seasoning before adding in your beans. I’ve used the variety that come in water for ease of cooking, I would suggest doing the same. Once the beans are in you can leave for a further 15 to 20 minutes uncovered so that the sauce reduces down. Before serving season with salt and cracked black pepper. They should be lovely and spicy and fruity; if not chuck in some tabasco or similar. You do not want them to knock your head off but there should be a gentle yet peristent background warmth to them. For the lamb I heated up my trusty griddle pan and coated the cutlets in some oil and cumin seeds. Once the griddle is smoking hot add the lamb and cook for about 4 minutes on each side; I never time anything so you should trust your instincts. For me I want to see some good grill lines and also for the bone to have lost its pinkness. Allow to rest for a minute or so before serving and give them a crack of pepper as well.
I served mine in a bowl as it seemed more fitting than a plate; that is probably down to the design on the bowls we have. A few large spoonfuls of beans and two cutlets should do it for each person. I then added some torn basil to my plate mostly for aesthetic reasons but the sweetness of the basil was a nice contrast to the heat. Coriander would also go nicely with this. As a meal this felt both light but also comforting; kind of perfect for the oncoming Autumn when you are not quite ready for full winter stews. The bean stew was a real pleasure and I did not feel like I needed any heavy starchy carbs to go with it. That being said I did have some of the left over stew with pan fried potatoes and a fried egg for lunch a couple of days later which was gorgeous. I have a feeling that this bean stew will be gracing my table again soon; perhaps combined with a different meat or even fish. As I mentioned you could use any combination of beans and could easily incorporate other vegetables if you wanted to keep this as a vegetarian dish; maybe serving up with some aubergine roasted in cumin seeds. So if you are starting to feel the cold and wet tendrils of Autumn creeping into your day why not give them a try and feel a little warmth in your belly.