RECIPE: Faux-Cuban black bean and leftover ham stew

I got a book about Cuban food last year when I was in the US. Whilst this isn’t specifically one of those recipes, I’ve spent a lot of the last few weeks indoors eating – as well as both thinking and reading about – food. This is something I knocked together after having a re-read last week, inspired by a lot of the ingredients in there. It’s a basic but satisfying bean stew using leftover meat but with a few little twists to give it some bite.

Serves a family
Leftover ham or gammon joint approx. 500-800g
Celery 2 sticks
Bay leaves 2-3
Onions 2
Green pepper

Garlic 4-5 cloves
Fresh chilli 1 whole (ideally habanero or scotch bonnet). Dried also works
Black beans 2 tins
Thyme a few sprigs
Cavolo nero kale or spianch will also work
Red wine vinegar

In a large pan, cover the ham joint with water. Half one of the onions, remove the skin and add with a pinch of salt. Half the carrot and celery vertically and add. Cover and boil on a medium-to-low heat for an hour or so or until you able to pull it apart and shred with a pair of forks. Then take it out and shred it. With a pair of forks.

Boil the resulting cooking liquid down until it reduces to about 500ml. Allow to cool so the fat turns to solid scum. Strain to remove solids.

Whilst waiting for it to cool, make a sort of soffrito by finely dicing the green pepper and the remaining onion and celery stick. Fry it for a few minutes in a deep pan with a slug of olive oil. Crush the garlic and add along with the chopped chilli and a bay leaf and continue to fry for a further couple of minutes. Throw in the strained beans from one can and stir for a couple of minutes. Then add the ham stock and the other tin of beans with the liquid from the tin.

Cook until the beans are heated through and then throw in a a few handfuls of cavolo nero. Add few splashes of red wine vinegar to finish.

Can be thickened with flour or arrowroot if you wish but remember to cook the flour out if you do.