Heading away for a long weekend to a bach (Kiwi for holiday home) by the sea tends to concentrate the mind when it comes to cooking. You know you’ll have to bring all your supplies with you, the local shop will probably be five miles down the road and that you’ll be having to cook on an unfamiliar cooker with unfamiliar, probably unwieldy, equipment. So it would be a good idea to cook some things that don’t involve much in the line of pots and pans.
As I was thinking along those lines, an article on one-pan dinners in last month’s edition of the beautifully photographed and styled Donna Hay Magazine caught my eye. What better idea for a theoretical chill-out weekend? The recipe for Pan Couscous with Chorizo and Green Beans sounded like a winner so, before we left the city, I made a stop at the fantastic Peter Timbs Butchers in Edgeware to get some chorizo and also, on a quick trip to the St Albans Market, grabbed a bag of green beans. I’ve become a huge fan of green beans since discovering how good they taste fresh, just cooked for enough time to still have a bite on them. It’s a long way from the sliced frozen sort.
Trying to get organised with food packing, I made a list some days before we left and then managed to only look at it when in the car, to discover exactly how many things I’d managed to forget or leave behind in the fridge. Luckily the local shop in Cheviot was able to fill most gaps but it was only when I started cooking that I realised how many other foodstuffs that I hadn’t supplied. Like garlic, for instance. Sometimes I wonder should I be left out of the house at all!
Despite all the odds stacked against it – having to use two pans as the first one wouldn’t work, only discovering how to work the tiny cooker properly the following day, lack of garlic – this recipe worked a treat, albeit not as photogenic as the DH version. In theory, and probably in my own kitchen, it could actually work as a one-pan option. Don’t dismiss the lemon wedges as an optional extra, as I almost did, as they give a sharpness to what otherwise could be a rather heavy dish. Just perfect for those winter nights by the fire – wherever you are.
A typical bach kitchen. Note the ‘compact’ layout…
Pan Couscous with Chorizo and Green Beans
Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
Red onion – 1, chopped
Garlic – 1 clove, finely chopped
Fresh red chilli – 1, deseeded and finely chopped
Mushrooms – 100g, chopped
Chorizo sausage – 1, chopped
Chopped canned tomatoes – 1
Water – 2 cups or 500ml
Green beans – 100g, cut into bite sized pieces
Couscous – 1 cup
Lemon wedges, salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Put the onion, garlic, chilli, mushrooms and chorizo in the pan and fry for 5-6 minutes then add the canned tomatoes, water and green beans.
Sprinkle the couscous over, season with salt and pepper, cover with a lid and leave to simmer on a low heat for about 6-8 minutes. Make sure the liquids have been absorbed and the beans are cooked to your taste. Serve with the lemon.