Saturday, June 16, 2007

G is for Green Beans, slow-braised


I have read that it takes a child between 10 and 90 tastes of a new food before they learn to accept it. Now I'm not sure of the science behind this statement but I like to look at it differently. I don't know if simply offering the same food repeatedly is what makes a difference. Presenting the same food cooked in very different ways, seems to give us more success. In the past, Freddie and I made no progress when I just placed the five green beans on his plate. We would have the same stand-off; the mealtime equivalent of Groundhog Day. But if you make the green beans look different, taste different at least you are helping to create change. They can't react in exactly the same way. A chance comment left on the blog led me to a recipe by Ed, the Slowcook in Washington DC. He describes himself as an urban insurgent and rails against fast food and the cult of the celebrity chef. "It's time to take back control of the food we eat and the pace of our own lives". He is passionate about eating good local food when it is in season and runs food appreciation and cookery classes for children.
Writing about green beans he advises that you have to chose between flavour and colour and that slow-cooking the beans maximises the flavour. Here is the link.
Inspired by Ed's recipe, I made some changes to suit Freddie's tastebuds.
Slow Cooked Green Beans

450g green beans, topped.
1 medium onion finely chopped
400g can of chopped tomatoes.
A twist of freshly ground black pepper.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Half a teaspoon of smoked paprika
2-3 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into small chunks or use gammon steak

Use a flameproof casserole dish or pan with a tight fitting lid. On the hob, cook the onion in the oil on a medium heat until it is translucent and soft. Add the paprika,tomatoes and green beans which have had their stalks cut off. Add the bacon pieces. Mix together and simmer on a low heat for at least three hours. You may have to add a very small amount of water every now and again if it needs. The beans will break down and become far less fibrous.

Thanks to Ed's inspiration, Freddie has now found a way of loving green beans. Not just putting up with them, or merely tolerating them occasionally but actually consuming them with passion. All thanks to the Slow Cook.


  1. I have some sympathy with Freddie. Most of the veg bought from supermarkets these days bear no resemblance to the wonderful stuff you grow at home. I grew up on an allotment and I love my veggies. Nothing can compare to fresh picked home grown veggies. Who can resist?

  2. TopVeg10:08 AM

    Did the slow cooked beans get any marks from Freddie? Vegetables in this house are now presented with a 'for your info. the Freddie scale is ..........!'

  3. Now that is really interesting. I'm one that would always advocate slow cooking of roots for casseroles and soups. But I would never have put the green bean down as one for slow braising. But reading this, it kind of makes sense. I'm going to try this over the summer, i can just see a lovely piece of seasonal fish sitting on top of a pile of these. it looks and sounds delicious. Nice one Ed.


  4. does freddie like hot, spicy food? if so, he may like this - Sambal Goreng Buncis (pronounced sambal gor-eng bonecis), which is indonesian, and uses green beans. - Sambal Ulek you may find as Sambal Olek in different places, its the same thing. Basically like a chilli relish. A good asian supermarket should stock it, or the asian section of bigger supermarkets (i think aldi and lidl have stocked in the past).
    Kecap Manis you may find as Kejap Manis - its basically sweet soy sauce. You can use soy sauce as an alternative, but i would add a little more sugar if you do - maybe 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp more. Again, though, you should be able to find Kejap/Kecap Manis in a good asian supermarket.

    have fun if you try this!


  5. Will that now be one of Freddie's favourite vegie dish?

  6. Thanks for the lovely review, Charlotte, and the slow-cooked beans in your photo look exactly right. It never fails: whenever I write about this recipe, I hear from people who either say they can't believe cooking beans for three hours actually works, or another group of people who say this is exactly how their grandmother made green beans in Lebanon, or Turkey, or Peru, or The South.

    Do enjoy them...


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