Bacon, kale and cannellini bean stew

I’m woken most mornings by a foghorn. It starts quietly, a sort of subtle parp in my sub-conscience, and builds inexorably towards a blaring, deafening need. It drowns out groggy thoughts of painkillers, Evian and hot water bottles. My foghorn, as for so many others, is bacon.

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A subtle parp

My personal preference is for the smoky, fatty type either cut thin and cooked to shattering point or, as in this case, thick lardons layered saltpetre pink and creamy, unctuous white. With the soft orange buzz of pimenton picante, sweetly fried garlic and the slight bitter bite of kale, this makes for a restorative, satisfying and, I suspect, rather healthy lunch.

This was more or less a fridge slut thrown together for a Tuesday lunch following a surprise birthday party which I can remember until 1am and the third tequila. My back teeth were trying to escape and I had a twitch in both eyes, so as always you’ll have to forgive the lack of accuracy in measurements.

Bacon, kale and cannellini bean stew

  • A little olive oil
  • A handful of smoky bacon lardons, or three chopped bacon rashers
  • 1 tin of cannellini beans
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • A big handful of kale
  • Two fat garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon(ish) pimenton picante
  • Curly-leaf parsley to finish
  • Good meaty stock. I used about half a pint to three quarters of a pint.

I actually made this in a wok, because my kitchen remains woefully understocked, but really one should put a thick bottomed casserole over a medium heat. Add a good drizzle of olive oil – no need for the extra virgin stuff – before throwing in your lardons. Keep them moving and tumbling over one another for a minute or so.

Add your roughly chopped garlic cloves and around one teaspoon of pimenton picante. Keep stirring, ensuring that the the garlic does not burn. After five or six minutes, everything will be dark with pimenton and the fat on the lardons should start crisping up a little.

Add your tin of tomatoes and two thirds of your stock, season and turn the heat right down. Stir and bring to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes or so, occasionally stirring to ensure the bacon and garlic doesn’t stick and burn. The sauce will thicken and reduce. Add your beans and kale, and a splash more stock. Stir and simmer until the kale wilts and darkens.

Garnish with curly-leaf parsley and serve with a piece of crusty bread, a glass of water and two paracetamol.

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