This is a vegetarian version of an old favourite made with chicken. It was originally a soup but I thought I’d make it as a casserole this time. I’m glad I did as it’s extremely good.
The name of the beans, the Spanish Judion de la Granja, took some tracking down (looking at Google for the meaning of the name brought up lots of entries from my own blog – gratifying but not helpful). Finally found out that “Judion de la Granja” simply means “From the farm in La Granja”.
Ingredients (see this post for details of the following list):-
Quorn Family Roast This comes in just one flavour, pretend chicken which, in fact, is quite convincing.
Half a 500g pack** of parsnips, peeled, cored, and roasted (as it turned out, roasting would have softened the cores so in future, they’ll be left)
A (small), roasted cauliflower (Sainsbury’s don’t seem to have any decent-sized ones, as Tesco do, but a small one is enough for this)
Half a small swede, peeled, diced, and roasted
2 medium-length but fat carrots, quartered lengthways, and sliced
6 good-sized Echalion shallots (more if small), quartered and thickly sliced (casseroles get thick slices, as the shallots play a greater role than just as an aromatic, while soup gets them sliced finely.
3 medium King Edward potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced, so they’ll break down and thicken it (I used Rooster, forgetting that they don’t fall when boiled).
600g Judion de la Granja beans (I had 2 800g portions that I’d cooked in my slow cooker, so I thawed one pack and put in as many as would fit, which was about 600g). If you cook them from scratch on the day, be aware that they need a full 24 hours soak, and about 3 hours, maybe longer, to cook on the hob, and a good 8 hours in a slow cooker. Which is why I cook them in bulk and freeze them.
1 portion Judion de la Granja stock (from the slow cooker, obvs). If no stock add 1 good teaspoon Marigold Bouillon Powder plus boiling water
1 Kallo veg cube
2 tablespoons Knorr Touch of Taste Vegetable (if, like me, you’ve used this in the past and found it disgusting, not least the ink-like colour, it’s changed a lot).
Lemon zest, 4 to 6 strips depending on the size of the unwaxed lemons, no pith, removed with a Rex peeler which is by far the easiest way.
1 teaspoon garlic granules
½ teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped curly parsley (flat-leaf might have edged out curly for trendy types, but I still prefer it, not least because it retains its colour better)
A knob of clarified butter and a splash of olive oil
Extra oil for roasting the veg
Maldon Sea Salt and fine black pepper
**Even topped, tailed, peeled and cored, there is surprisingly little loss, 500g yielding 460g of roasted parsnips. True, they will have absorbed some oil, but they will have lost moisture so it probably evens out. I use a Rex peeler, which takes off the skin very finely, and they were cored with a very sharp knife, with no extraneous flesh being lost. I still don’t understand how the loss was only 40g though, and I’m guessing that the pack was overweight. Er, no, it’s not my scales. I checked with another – same result.
NB: The weight of packs marked with the e symbol are an average, and can be higher or lower than the weight indicated. This is a first for being higher!
Note: The 200g or so of left-over beans were fried in melted butter until some were lightly browned and all were thoroughly hot, then seasoned with sea salt and white pepper and served with fried pollack. Extremely tasty and a nice contrast of textures. These beans, while they can look the same as ordinary butter beans (though they tend to be plumper and are often bigger overall), are very much tastier, which is enhanced by allowing them to cool in the cooking liquor.
Method – Part 1, roasting:-
I’m going to have a hell of a job giving this recipe a Spoonie spoon rating (for cooks who, like me, are disabled), as there are so many separate steps. They can, however, be grouped into three easy stages – roasting the Quorn, then the veggies, and assembling the casserole.
The first two can be done well in advance and, if you wish, frozen until needed.
So, let’s start with the Quorn Family Roast. The instructions are to pierce the wrapping and roast for about 1 hour (the timings given are inconsistent but based on my experience an hour is about right at the specified temperature. Ignore the reduction for fan ovens.
As for piercing, using the tip of a sharp knife, make three small slits along the centre line of the top – that should be sufficient. I over-pierced it, and it lost a lot of liquid and, along with it, I’m sure, a fair bit of flavour.
When roasting is complete, leave to go cold – disregarding the instructions which are intended for immediate consumption – then remove the wrapper. If keeping for a while, bag, date, and freeze.
For more immediate use, cut the roast in half lengthways, and slice about as thick as a pound coin. Bag the slices and refrigerate.
The veggies are a pain, as they all take different times to roast so first prep them all:-
Top, tail, and peel the parsnips, and halve lengthways.
Peel and cut the swede into dice, about 1cm.
Cut the cauli into bite-size florets, and cut up the centre stalk.
Toss each batch in olive oil (or sunflower/rapeseed oil if you don’t like olive), and roast at 190C until browned but not burnt – aim for a deep golden brown – cut out any burned bits, they’ll adversely affect the flavour). I found that my mini oven gave best results, but it needs to be the type with heating elements top and bottom. Otherwise use the cooker’s oven and turn the veg once or twice.
One difference with the cauli – if there are any leaves that are still firm, plus bits of sound stalk too, trim off any dried bits, chop the rest and set aside to add to the pot with the carrots. It’s all flavour.
And roasted cauli, when subsequently simmered, doesn’t disintegrate as cauli is prone to do. Useful, that.
Don’t forget, if using frozen beans and/or frozen stock, to defrost both.
Method – Part 2, assemble the casserole:-
The pot, as ever, is my 3-litre stainless steel job.
Heat the butter and oil, and – I’m sure many of you know this by heart by now, but spare a thought for newbies who don’t – sweat off the shallots until soft but not coloured.
Add the carrots, any cauli stalks and leaves, the Kallo cube, celery salt, lemon zest (leave in strips or chop finely – your call), garlic granules and the stock. If no stock, add enough boiling water to just cover, and the Marigold, stir well, and bring up to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer until the carrots are almost soft, then add the potatoes and boiling water if necessary, boiling gently until they’re cooked and starting to fall, before adding the Quorn, beans, and roasted veggies, the Touch of Taste and enough boiling water, again, to just cover. This will almost fill the pot, so stir gently from here on in.
Bring back to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until the carrots are soft.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool. When safe to do so, taste and adjust the seasoning, cool fully and refrigerate overnight – you know why by now, just no peeking!
Next day – and this does make a difference – reheat until warm, set a colander over a suitably-sized pan and pour through it as much liquid as you can, putting the pot back on a very low heat to keep it warm. Tip back any solids from the colander and whisk 2 tablespoons of plain flour into the liquid, bringing it up to the boil while whisking continually so it doesn’t go lumpy, and scraping the bottom of the pan as you go. Cook for 10 minutes, whisking and scraping occasionally, then return to the pot, stir gently to mix with the liquid still in there, bring the whole thing to simmering point, and serve. Or cool and put away until needed.
I had a bowl of this last night (Friday), and it’s excellent. Almost as good as the chicken-based original. After roasting the Quorn was, frankly, as tough as old boots, but after being poached in the casserole it became as tender as real chicken. One of the very few Quorn products to genuinely impress me. Most are crap. They might be OK used as intended but, when used like the roast, as in ingredient, they fail miserably. Sausages, for example, take on the texture of wet bread.
I know I’ve said this before, but it’s worth reiterating to show how good Quorn can be if the will is there. In the mid eighties, Sainsbury’s did a “Family Steak Pie”. You had to resort to the fine print on the bottom of the box to discover that much of the “steak” was Quorn. The thing is, though, based on taste and texture it was quite impossible to tell which was meat and which was Quorn. No Quorn product, in my experience when marketed under the Quorn brand (and I’ve eaten a hell of a lot over the years), has ever been as good.
I’m going to assume that, like me, you did this over a couple of days, and in five stages** (six stages, counting the beans and stock, which had been in the freezer for a couple of weeks***), in which case I think 3 Spoonie spoons is fair for each stage.
If you have the physical resources – which is what this rating is all about – to do it all in one session then, really, go for it, the spoons are irrelevant.
**Roasted veg x 3, roasted Quorn, and assembling the casserole.
*** Cooking beans in the slow cooker will give me two good portions of beans (the actual amount depending on the type of bean), but only one portion of stock, about 750ml. Having considered the option of using half the stock to perk up each of two dishes, I decided that using it all in one dish, to really ramp up the intensity of the flavour, is the better way.