Tuesday 9 October 2012

Bean pot

In my previous blog post I recommended the puri, or flat bread, to go along with, inter alia, a stewed dish. After some deliberation, the missus and I decided to make a bean pot, as the weather here in the Cape Town area was blustery and cold. Not a big decision when you have a cosy evening at home with your loved ones to look forward to. 
Sometimes the weather does play along with one's experiments!

This recipe is a variation on the traditional South African mutton or lamb green bean stew (groenboontjiebredie for the Afrikaans readers). This one has some canned beans as well, since fresh beans of other types are not really freely available in this neck of the woods. The stew also contains some tomatoes. I like to put a small amount of tomato in the stew, not only to thicken the sauce, but also to provide some small hint of tanginess. This is enhanced by the addition of a fresh hot chili or two. And there is the odd potato or three, very traditional South African style.
This dish is not really suitable for making on board a small vessel at sea. However, one may substitute the meat with home made meat balls, which will reduce the cooking time substantially. The larger yachts and catamarans may have suitable facilities and may be more stable at sea to allow for the long cooking time and store of ingredients. Some of the fresh ingredients may be substituted with the canned variety, making such a variation also more attainable on a small boat at sea.
This dish goes well with a medium bodied red wine.


600 grams stewing lamb or mutton. I used some rib meat and a leg of lamb chop. This gives a nice balance between the fat from the bony parts and lean meat from the leg chop.
3 medium sized potatoes, chopped into medium size chunks.
handful of fresh green beans, chopped into three pieces.
1 can red kidney beans in water
1 can butter beans in water
2 medium sized onions
2 fresh hot chillis, chopped. I used Cerranos.
½ sweet pepper. I used an orange one for the colour effect.
2 cloves garlic, chopped.
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped coarsely. Thumb size is OK, the dish may be chunky because the beans are.
1 cube beef stock. I used a little sachet of extract, they are also good.
1 cup mushrooms. Any kind or mixed.
Dollop of soy sauce
Some cooking oil


The sequence of the proceedings is king here. You may not get the flavour or texture if you vary the sequence.
Use a casserole or saucepan, depending on your quantities, with a thick bottom and sides, it allows for better heat distribution. I use a cast iron casserole. The food keeps on cooking for the last fifteen minutes after the heat has been taken away, allowing for better development of the flavour as the pan cools down.
Fry the onions, sweet pepper, garlic and chilli in light oil until the onions go a nice brown colour or just before. Remove them from the frying pan. Now brown the meat in the pan, using the leftover juices from the onions. Don't cover the pan with meat, it will only stew in its own juices and not go brown. Fry a little meat at a time if necessary. And it doesn't hurt if the pan scorch a little, it adds to the flavour in the end. Mind not to burn the meat. Add all the meat back when all the meat is brown, together with the onion mix. Add a dollop of soy sauce and simmer for five minutes to allow the flavour to develop. Add the tomatoes, the stock and some water.
Set the heat to low and allow the dish to simmer until the meat is almost soft. Then add the potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are almost soft. Now add the green beans. Simmer for five minutes, then add the mushrooms. Simmer for five minutes, then add the rest of the beans.
Now switch off the heat and leave the dish to rest for another fifteen minutes. This will allow the flavour to develop.
Serve with a flat bread like roti or puri, or with brown and wild rice. The coarse rice makes a good accompaniment to the dish. I had this with the whole wheat puri described in my previous blog post.
Bon appetit!
This post also linked to Yeastspotting!

Authored by Johan Zietsman
Last updated on 2012-12-12  

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