Food has been in the news a lot lately.
From the campaigning of footballer Marcus Rashford MBE for school children to not go hungry to local foodbanks appealing for help to ensure the most disadvantaged in our society have access to healthy meals, food has never been higher on the agenda.
It’s in this spirit that Richard Kirton, head chef at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, is releasing the first in a series of videos showing some simple, healthy but tasty and thrifty meals.
Richard, who has been head chef since 1993, said: “These recipes are simple, quick and taste really nice. They aren’t ‘health food’ as such, but they include fresh and canned ingredients that are good for you.
“As well as thinking about healthy meals that are easy to cook, I’ve also considered the price. Keeping prices low is really important – some of my recipes will be easily doable by people relying on foodbanks.
“I’ve also tried to make sure there are no set ingredients that can’t be changed – if you don’t like a certain ingredient or don’t have it in the cupboard, you can easily swap it with something else. Don’t like spinach? Then use broccoli instead. Don’t have any butterbeans in the cupboard? Throw in some lentils. It’s your dinner after all!”
The first video, featuring Richard cooking a bacon and butter bean ragout, will be released on social media this week, with a further video showcasing a stunning chick pea and potato curry following shortly.
Hello, I’m Richard Kirton. I’m chef team leader at North Tees Hospital in Stockton.
Today we’re going to cook a couple of healthy meals with basically items that you can find in your cupboards and refrigerators, pantries. Healthy simple and really cost-effective food.
Our first recipe today is going to be a butter bean casserole with bacon and paprika:
We have 400 grams of butter beans here
Four slices of bacon chopped up
We’ve got red and green pepper thinly sliced
A medium red onion sliced
I’ve got some frozen spinach here but you can use fresh spinach if you want
This is just vegetable stock you could use a veg stock cube
Tomato puree and a tin of chopped tomatoes
To start with a butterbean casserole, you need a really hot pan or wok. Preheat it through a high flame. A bit of oil – this will do. This one has been heating up for a while so it should sizzle straight away.
Take your bacon – you can either dice it or thinly slice it. I usually do this recipe with chorizo but it’s a bit expensive but you can if you want you could also use it with cooked sausages or even chicken, you know anything you’ve got in your cupboard or fridge whatever.
So I’m frying up this raw bacon.
Inside there’s loads of flavour in it and if you get it in the pan get it fried up, all that lovely bacon flavour will just seeps into your butter beans. So once you bacon starts to get a bit of colour a bit of brown, crispiness on it – I’m missing garlic, sorry – the garlic was over the other side of the kitchen!
Ren onions, thinly sliced, probably about three cloves of garlic, something like that, finely chopped.
Peppers and some paprika, probably around a teaspoon of paprika.
So, you want to fry this mixture for probably around a couple of minutes. Make sure you’re cooking out the paprika, powdered spice it’s very important that you give it a good cook in the pan. Once it gets to the end of this dish, if you haven’t cooked it down you get that real powdery intake to the final product.
So, I’m just stirring this around – the garlic, red onions, peppers, bacon, paprika and oil – just softening all the vegetables up, all that flavour is mixed together. Then I’ll add the butter beans, tin of chopped tomatoes and a touch of tomato puree.
This is like a one-pot dish. You can serve it in a big bow with a nice big crispy bit of bread you know
or sometimes i will serve this with a piece of fish or chicken breasts. You just put the butterbean ragout on the bottom and a nice bit of fried fish. Obviously, fish is very expensive. You can have it by itself or you can serve with something else.
Just a bit of vegetable stock – you could use a veg stock cube. I’ve probably only got half a stock cube in
There. And what i would probably do is simmer this for about five minutes, between five and ten minutes just to let all the flavours just marry together and obviously it really brings all that lovely flavour and tastes together.
Spinach now – you can use either frozen spinach or fresh spinach. How much you want to do or you don’t even have to put spinach in if you haven’t got it, you can put anything you can put frozen broccoli out of the freezer anything – peas – you know just it’s just to give it a bit of contrasting colour, the greenness of the spinach and like the tomatoes really make it stand out.
So I’m just going to season that now – bit of salt and black pepper. Butterbeans are is one of those things that like a lot of people don’t like but if you do it right or add something really nice. It’s a pretty bland thing but if you put it in a nice sauce or dish, you know, sort of lots of flavour it’s wonderful. It’s kind of the same as baked beans but just larger in my opinion and who doesn’t like baked beans?
All right so just about there now. Take a bowl or a plate – and this recipe probably serves around
two to three people. A nice piece of bread and just be a bit cheffy get a parsley garnish. And there you have a ragout of butterbeans, bacon and spinach.
Richard is hoping people will share their versions of his dishes and reveal their favourite quick and easy dinner time favourites. The one-time Hospital Chef of the Year winner commented: “I really hope people give these recipes a try and I’d love to see their versions of them.
“There are no ‘rules’ in cooking – whatever works for you is correct. We can always learn something new and I bet some people will put a twist on the ragout that I’d never dream of.”
Richard Kirton’s butterbean and bacon ragout
• One regular can of butterbeans, drained
• Four rashers of bacon, roughly chopped (this can be replaced with fish, chicken, chorizo, ham or any appropriate vegetarian alternative)
• Half red and half green pepper – sliced
• One red onion – diced
• Three cloves of garlic, crushed
• Half a vegetable stock cube
• Tea spoon of Paprika
• One regular tin of chopped tomatoes
• Table spoon tomato puree
• Small amount of spinach/other green veg such as broccoli
• Salt and pepper
• Oil for frying
• Add the bacon to a hot pan with a splash of oil and cook until it starts to go crispy.
• Throw in the onions and fry off for a few minutes until the onions are soft.
• Put in the peppers, garlic and paprika and cook through. Make sure the paprika cooks into the food until there is no powder left.
• Open the canned tomatoes and throw in with veg stock cube and butter beans – give it a good stir and simmer.
• After a few minutes, stir in the tomato puree and spinach
• Season to taste – not too much salt though! (the stock cube has salt in it)
• Serve with bread, rice or pasta.
Note: Store leftovers in the fridge (eat the next day) or freeze
A second video has now been released – a tasty Chickpea and Potato Curry.