One afternoon my flat was broken into. The strange thing is, before I went out I had put a hare in the oven to braise, which filled the flat with delicious gamey smells. I cannot help but think that it must have been very distracting to the burglar, the musk of a braising hare. (Fergus Henderson, ‘The Complete Nose to Tail‘)
You know that ubiquitous question that gets asked? The one along the lines of, “If you could invite 3 (or five or even seven) people to dinner – anybody in the world – who would you invite?”. THAT question.
Well, Fergus Henderson would definitely be on my list.
Well. Here’s a picture of the man himself. Not just anybody could wear a suit like that and get away with it….
If that is not reason enough for you, his British eccentricity appeals to me. He has a wonderful quirkiness about him. Of course, his approach to food (and eating) is another. His cookbook ‘Complete Nose to Tail: A Kind of British Cooking‘ is fast becoming a staple in my kitchen despite the fact that I can’t eat most of the lovely sweets and breads on offer (I finally purchased it 18 months after it was first published). And, when LM and I were last in London back in 2012, his restaurant St John easily topped the list as our most memorable dining experience – for all the right reasons. It was so good, we even went back for a second helping. And, if that’s not enough for you – Anthony Bourdain rates him, too. BIG time.
Oh – and I think he may just have a lazy eye. But, I could be imagining things. If he does, we have that in common – I have an eye that likes to do its own thing on occasion.
The buzzing of the bees, a glass of rose, the warmth of the sun, radishes and butter. (Fergus Henderson, ‘The Complete Nose to Tail‘)
This recipe excites me in so many ways! First up – it has green beans as the core ingredient. I haven’t had beans in a long time because they fall into a ‘grey area’ for the autoimmune protocol. And then, as is typical for Fergus, the dish is full of lovely pungent flavours – gooey and aromatic roasted garlic, sweetly oven-caramelised shallots, the most English of herbs – parsley, salty capers, and then a massive hit of umami-flavoured anchovies. I adore anchovies, but I do acknowledge they are not to everyone’s taste.
And, sadly, if you are not in the pro-anchovy camp, this recipe may not be one for you to try…
But – on the other hand – if anchovies are your thing, then this recipe may just become your favourite side dish in the whole world.
It’s pretty damn fine, I think.
Fergus Henderson's Green Beans, Shallots, Garlic and Anchovies
Adapted from ‘The Complete Nose to Tail’ to suit those in the reintroduction phase of the Autoimmune Protocol
2 x whole bulbs of garlic
16 x shallots, peeled
Coconut oil (or duck fat or lard) melted
Extra virgin olive oil
Himalayan sea salt
1 x small tin of anchovies in EVOO, chopped reasonably fine
1 x handful capers
1/2 x bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 x teaspoon red wine vinegar
900g French beans, topped and tailed
1. Heat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Cut about 1 cm from the top of each of your garlic bulbs to expose the individual garlic cloves. Discard the tops. Place the garlic bulbs in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with a little melted coconut oil (or fat of choice). Cover the dish with foil and bake for 40 – 50 minutes or until the garlic is soft when tested with a skewer.
2. While your garlic is roasting, toss your shallots in a little more melted coconut oil. Pop them into the oven to roast alongside the garlic. You will need to keep an eye on the shallots, tossing them regularly – every 10 minutes or so – until soft. Keep warm.
3. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the flesh out of the cloves. Try to resist gobbling it all up.
4. In a small bowl, mix the anchovies, garlic flesh, capers and parsley. Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. Check for seasoning.
5. Bring a pot of well salted water to the boil. Pop in your beans and cook for four minutes. Check for done-ness. Drain and then mix them in a warm bowl with your roasted shallots and anchovy dressing.
6. Serve immediately.
E N J O Y !
Fergus recommends serving this dish with lamb chops. We served ours with some lovely scotch filet from the gorgeous Scotty at Moobi Valley Meats. It was divine!
I’m at the reintroduction stage of my autoimmune protocol adventure. That means I can start reintroducing foods that have previously been excluded. This is managed in a very systematic way – one food at a time, starting with things that are least likely to cause a problem (or that I miss the most!). I’m keeping a food journal and recording any unusual symptoms or changes in mood. It’s actually proving to be more work that strict AIP!