I’ve been getting into South American and Mexican food lately after re-reading the beautifully-photographed World Food Cafe recipe book and authors Chris and Carolyn Caldicott’s travels through the orange-sunset Americas.
As I sit here, barely able to type with frozen hands, and the woodburning stove behind me spluttering the last log, filling me with Withnail-ian thoughts of burning the furniture, despite what little there is in my ramshackle cottage, I can’t think of a place I’d rather be than Brazil.
This recipe is a take on the South American country’s traditional black bean stew. Normally, you’d add a few vegetables like cubes of carrots, sweet potatoes and turnips or something, and in the Caldicotts’ book, no meat. But this is all I had in the cupboard, and as it turned out pretty well and kept the cold at bay for an hour or two, especially with the high chilli content, I thought I’d share it with you...
CHICKEN AND BLACK BEAN STEW
6 chicken drumsticks
2 small onions
4 fat cloves of garlic
1 tbsp beef dripping
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons extra hot chilli powder
2 handfuls of fresh coriander
400g tin of black turtle beans
Melt the dripping in a pot and fry the drumsticks on all sides until lightly browned. Roughly chop the onions and garlic cloves and add them to the pot, stirring away over a medium flame for a couple of minutes. Add the cumin seeds and continue to fry for another minute or so.
Add half a cup of water and cook away, turning the chicken from time to time, until the water has evaporated into a thick syrup, then add another half cup of water and the chilli powder.
Put the coriander in a tub of water and wash well, then leave in the water so any mud sinks to the bottom of the tub (there is nothing worse than grit in a stew). Cut or twist off the roots and leave the leaves in the water. Roughly chop the roots and add them to the pot and cook for another ten minutes, adding a little more water if necessary.
Add the turtle beans (including the purple liquid the beans come with) and stir for a minute until thoroughly coated. Cook over a low heat for another five minutes, stirring from time to time, and at the end add salt to taste and stir in the chopped coriander leaves.
Serve with warm tortillas (which you can heat either by putting them on top of the woodburning stove, or by turning them a couple of times in a dry frying pan, or pinging them for 30 seconds in a microwave if you’ve got one).