I am writing this post a day after Christmas just before one of the usual Boxing Day football fixtures. The turkey has been eaten and its remains put away in the fridge. What to do with them? There are only so many sandwiches I can make using my new pickle (a Christmas present, with the rather self-explanatory name the Green Fire, whose ingredients include Green Kenyan chillies and mint). Besides, I’m a bone man; I leave the white meat to my wife and kids. I usually go for thighs and legs. That’s why there’s a gigantic carcass looking at me from inside the fridge. Waiting to be, either disposed of, or experimented upon.
I choose the latter. Every Christmas I find myself in the same dilemma. What
to do with the leftovers? I belong to the “never chuck away food” brigade. But what
happens when the turkey you’ve bought is so big that it could very well
pin you down to the ground and execute a half-nelson on you?
Red kidney beans soup. I just found half a packet stashed away which I’d
completely forgotten about. My plan is to slice some onions, mash up some
garlic, heat them up on a large pan, add paprika, salt, pepper, a couple of bay
leaves, coriander, cumin, mixed herbs and oregano. Let this combo sizzle on the
pan before you drop a tablespoonful of red wine vinegar in and let the smell hit you. Add
some tomato puree and after a couple of minutes mix in the beans. I usually
stir them and let them get acquainted with the spices. Match-making, if you
like, at Christmas time. In the meantime I boil some water to get my
vegetable stock ready. Once the stock is in, I ramp
up the fire until the water is boiling. I let it boil nicely for a couple of
minutes and then I bring the fire down to the minimum, number 1 in our case. I keep
the pan going for three hours, stirring the beans every now and then and
tasting them to see if they are soft enough.
For vegetarians what I tend to do is replace the turkey or any other kind of
meat (in Cuba I would be using pork, beef and lamb if available) for sweet
potatoes, carrots, celery and potatoes. Next time I am planning to add corn to the mix.
My personal twist for those who like their soups thick and rich is simple: the oven. Half an hour
before the three hours are up, I switch the oven on to 200°. Still steaming
hot, I place the pan inside the oven and leave it there for thirty or forty minutes.
The liquid thickens and the result is a filling dish that will keep your hunger
away on these dark winter nights.
The music to go with this recipe ought to be equally rich. That’s why my
first offering tonight is a band I first heard recently as a result of an
article in Songlines magazine. Lady Maisary is a new folk trio with two albums
to their names and powerful vocals as the clip below shows. They are also
expert musicians with a craftsmanship that belies their ages. Enjoy.
My second musical offering tonight is a bluesy melody by a band that was more often
than not labelled prog-rock. Yet, those of us who are acquainted with Jethro
Tull’s back catalogue know that Beggar’s
Farm, the track below, was the Tull’s way of saying that this was the music they wanted to
make in 1968 when their debut album was released. And the name of that record? This Was. Amazing.
Rokia Traoré is one of those singers who bring passion to any performance. That’s
the same approach I have to cooking (and eating!). That’s why she is the third
artist I would like to present to you tonight. Zen’s groove stays with the listener long after it finishes. Magnifico!
Lenacay is the offspring of two members of the now defunct hip hop flamenco band,
Ojos de Brujo. The energy and
experimentation are still there and that’s why I am closing this post with them
tonight. If this musical number had a smell it would be the same smell that
will be wafting out of my kitchen in a little while. Happy eating!
Next Post: “Sunday Mornings: Coffee, Reflections and Music”, to be published
on Sunday 19th January at 10am (GMT)