“One grey Wednesday in June, I was five short days away from needing to send this manuscript to my editor, and my partner was taking Zoom calls from the bedroom floor having done his back in; we were both thoroughly exhausted. I made these beans, a quick variation on smoky Boston beans, for a speedy lunch. They have everything you need to restore you as you break the back of the day, or your own. Sweet and smoky enough for rich comfort, spicy enough to give you some pep in
your step for the rest of the afternoon, and quick enough to feel doable when your mind is full. I recommend chucking a jar of ’nduja in the shopping basket now and then, to quickly fancify such fridge-raid lunches, but chilli flakes, bacon, pancetta or chorizo would do just fine in this case (’nduja producers, don’t come for me; I love you). The toast and egg make it a little breakfasty, which always feels like a rebellious luxury after 12pm, especially if you skipped First Breakfast in favour of a stressed coffee and an urgent to-do list. ”
Soften the shallot in the oil in a pan over a low heat – I find having a lid on speeds up the softening and reduces the chance of catching. You want it to soften, not fry. Add the garlic after a few minutes and cook gently for another minute or two. Up the heat slightly and add the paprika, fennel seeds, cumin and oregano, with a little extra oil if necessary. Once fragrant, turn the heat down, add 1 tablespoon of the ’nduja and cook for a couple more minutes until softened through. Add the beans, honey, mustard and salt, and a little water to loosen. Stir, then cook over a low heat for 10 minutes or so while you prepare the toast and eggs, adding a little more water if necessary.
Pop the bread in the toaster and poach the eggs. Generously butter the toast, of course, and add a scrape of Marmite, if you like.
In a small frying pan, add the remaining ½ tablespoon of ’nduja, the extra pinch of fennel seeds and drizzle of honey, and warm gently.
Stir the vinegar through the beans, before serving piled on toast, with a poached egg on top, and a little of the fennel ’nduja oil atop the egg to finish.