Brandade of Tuna Fish and Haricot Beans

I spent all my money taking trains from London to Croatia and back, in August – a wonderful, unforgettable experience. The souvenirs acquired on this holiday include a t-shirt with a stupid wolf on, a tea towel that doubles as a handy map of the Croatian islands, and a hilarious degree of poverty, so for my dinner the other night I turned to The Pauper’s Cookbook by Jocasta Innes (1971) and fashioned this brandade recipe. I had no idea what a brandade was, and turned to wikipedia, whose entry on the subject describes something that’s not at all like what I cooked.  Here’s the recipe:

Thanks to living in the modern world I was able to buy a tin of haricot beans and avoid the hell of overnight soaking – an activity I’ve vowed never to attempt again after the first and only time I soaked pulses overnight, then still had to boil them for 4 hours, and then gave up as they were still hard.  This shortcut happily leads to another shortcut and  I boiled the tinned beans for all of 20 minutes, if that, and not 2-3 hours. I am sure that a saving could be made by using dried beans but life is much too short to mess with dried pulses, if you ask me. I’d rather pay for a tin and hang the decadence.

When it came to mashing things I used a potato masher. I have a phobia about metal cutlery touching crockery or pans so this seemed to make the most sense, as I do not have a food mill (what is a food mill? Is it a blender?).

What came out of the oven smelled and looked adequate. And it tasted it too. It will come as no surprise to anyone who’s given the recipe a cursory look that it lacks seasoning – add salt and pepper to taste, yes, but what about using other seasonings that complement the ingredients, rather than just making them more salty or peppery? It wasn’t half bad though, blandly comforting, if propped up hugely by the cheddar.

Here it is hanging out with some peas:

Brandaded by Alix


4 responses to “Brandade of Tuna Fish and Haricot Beans

  1. Usually I’d agree with you about the lack of seasoning in cooking this, but adding salt to the beans when boiling them will make them go hard, so I can kind of forgive it here.

    Even with the lack of seasoning this sounds like a rather pleasant way to make tinned tuna taste less like catfood…

  2. I once had a brandade of cod in a fancy Kensington restaurant, multi-moons ago. It was indeed a hot fish puree, not baked however but poured on toast, and surprisingly savoury. Olive oil is one trad French seasoning. A pestle and mortar is another pulping implement used to make brandade.
    A food-mill? Try googling ‘Mouli’ food-mill for a picture [or a kitchen supplies company]. Pre-dates blenders, better than sieves (more stable) for large quantities. Hard to explain succinctly!

  3. Elizabeth David’s 1960 “French Provincial Cooking” has Brandade de Morue (salt cod, olive oil, milk and garlic). Even then she says it’s a bother to prepare and most French housewives buy it ready-made.

  4. Making this tonight and cannot find my copy of the book – thankyou for the recipe! I did the beansin the pressure cooker – 25 mins at high pressure. Regarding seasoning, i chop and fry a medium onion and add this to the mix, as well as the juice of a lemon and ground black pepper.This is one of the first cookery books I ever bought, still using it 30 years later. Have just seen that it is available as an e-book (for Android?) so looks to be still popular in the 21st century!