” You know what would be great lads? Let’s sail our 130 ships to invade England, but instead we will go by Scotland and we’ll take them by surprise by coming from the West of Ireland… It’s gonna be great, who’s in?”. And so I was amusing myself imagining the unlikely conversation between a Spaniard Captain and his crew somewhere in the 16th century while standing on Streedagh beach in Co. Sligo, just off Grange. A place where one can still see at low tide, a wreck of the Spanish Armada, some 430 years ago, quite humbling standing there really, 24 ships were lost in the campaign and around the coast of Ireland due to bad weather and treacherous shores, poorly mapped then and where the survivors at Streedagh met a very grim fate at the hands of the locals and some “Red Coats” joining the killing spree… It must have been quite a sight, and I was there, standing on the strand, taking it all in and thankful for more peaceful times, well at least here and for now.
I was out Birdwatching, to get out of the house for a Monday drive; Lissadell where I saw some pretty Greenshanks, a beautiful green legged wader that I haven’t seen since my Breton salt marshes, Raghly and its pebble dune and always great for Common Eiders, the last of the Swallows were still there too and I enjoyed watching a flock of linnets before heading for Streedagh and finally Mullaghmore and its wild shores…
As I drove back through the semi by passed Town of Sligo, I remembered that I learned how to make pizzas with Musty and Rapha there, two colourful and skilled Spaniards who I owe a good bit, I also realised that a lot of ingredients we use today were brought back on similar ships that the one now almost gone after centuries of waves after waves crashing on its hull, still to be seen at low tide on Streedagh beach; peppers, tomatoes, avocados, corn, potatoes… All came across on a ship like this, across the ocean as seeds and from South America that we now claim to be our own, the Irish spud or the Italian tomato! Yes, like I said earlier, quite humbling indeed!
And so was born my little idea for a vegetarian Chili, I am sure I am not the only one who thought about it, or like this fellow Breton who decided to create a fishy version in his restaurant and called it “Chili Concarneau” after the famous Finistérien harbour near my Dad’s. No, I liked the idea of a veggie chili and this is how I went about mine!
- 200g of dried organic Kidney Beans ( soaked for 12 hours)
- 1 handful of organic green lentils
- 1 Organic Red Pepper
- 2 Red Onions
- 1 Whole Garlic
- 1 700 g Jar of Pera d’Abruzzo or really old fashioned fresh ones
- 1 organic chili pepper
- 1 tsp of caraway ( ground or seeds)
- 1 tsp of ground cumin
- 1 tsp of ground paprika
- 1 tsp of dried oregano (I have loads in the garden)
- a good pinch of sea salt
- olive oil
- 1 whole organic corn
- a bit of butter (50g)
Drain the Kidney Beans off and give them a gentle rinse. Chop the onions and red peppers and start frying in olive oil with 3 or 4 whole cloves of garlic and a whole red chili (remove the green stalk) . After a couple of minutes, add the beans, lentils and all the spices together, stir well for the flavours to develop; add the jar of Pera d’Abruzzo tomatoes, bring to the first simmer and cover with water…
You need to leave the dish to cook gently for a couple of hours. Cover first, then without the lid as you don’t want the dish to be too watery. For the corn now…
Remove the leaves from the corn, and place it on a sheet of tin foil with some butter and the remainder of the garlic. Fold the sheet leaving plenty of room and in the oven it goes at 200 c for 40 minutes…
Out it comes, looking delicious. You can add another bit of butter for extra decadence…
And that’s it, you just need to serve now, I enjoyed a little bit of lime to squeeze over the corn, a glass of Tinto would have been nice too, maybe an unoaked Ribera Del Duero Tempranillo? I’d say it would work just nice! ¡Buen provecho!
Keep Well and Eat Happy