Brixton is becoming well known for its links with the Iberian peninsula thanks to the large Portuguese population and newer Spanish residents. Stores like A&C Deli on Atlantic Road and the newly opened Brindisa provide the taste of home for many and the opportunity for people like me to try something new.
I’m a huge fan of black pudding, alternating between the link style of a Bury black pud for stews or slices of a Stornoway for a fried breakfast but my eye has been drawn to the morcela of the A&C and morcilla at Brindisa recently. Both differ to British black pudding in that they contain spices such as cumin and garlic for rich savoury flavour. Morcilla also contains rice instead of gluten based fillers such as oats or rusk.
Their deep flavour and soft creamy texture is perfect for making a huge pot of rich home made baked beans. I used some seasonal arrocina beans from Brindisa which are dried but not as old as many dried pulses can be when you buy them and when cooked become meltingly creamy. Well worth trying if you think beans are boring!
Iberian Baked Beans (serves 4-6)
- 300g dried white beans such as arrocina or haricot, soaked
- 250-300g morcilla or morcela, skinned and crumbled
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes or pul biber
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 500ml water
Start by soaking your beans overnight in cold water. Drain and rinse well the next day.Add them to a large pot of cold water and bring to the boil. Skim any froth off the top with a slotted spoon and boil rapidly for 10-15 minutes until the beans are softening but not cooked.
Drain and add to a large ovenproof dish with a lid. Crumble the morcilla or morcela into them and add the cherry and tinned tomatoes along with the chopped onion and garlic. Add the sugar, vinegar and tomato puree in and stir well. Sprinkle the spices into it all. Pul biber is a sort of smoked Turkish chilli flake with a soft heat but don’t worry if you can’t get it.
Add the water and season the beans well remembering the morcilla or morcela is already seasoned. Stir it all together and put the lid on. Bake the beans on 160°C for 3 hours, checking after two hours to see if they need more water. The morcilla will melt into the tomatoes and make a thick sauce. If this looks dry, add another 200ml of water.
Serve these beautiful beans as a simple one pot meal with a green salad on the side and maybe some good bread to make sure you don’t miss a drop of the amazing sauce. If you don’t manage to devour the whole pot at one sitting, the beans reheat well for a fabulous packed lunch.
*To make this a slow cooker meal to remember, simply add everything to the slow cooker but with 350ml water and cook it all on low on 7-8 hours. You don’t need to soak the beans first either.