White bean fritters with anchovy mayonnaise

Peter made this for lunch; it was delicious, and surprisingly filling. It’s adapted from one of Nigel Slater’s recipes; you’ll find the original recipe in his book ‘Real Cooking’. At the end of this article you can click through to a review of the book and have a chance to buy it.

For 4

6 anchovy fillets, rinsed
a large cupful / 200 ml mayonnaise (home-made or from a jar)
juice of a lemon
half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
250g (8 oz) cannellini beans
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a large shallot or small onion, finely chopped
an egg
75g (2.5 oz) mature farmhouse cheese such as Lancashire, grated
beaten egg and fine, dry breadcrumbs for coating
groundnut oil for frying
lemon to serve

Soak the cannellini beans overnight in deep, cold water. They’ll swell up to twice their size by morning.

Pour off any remaining water from the beans, cover with fresh water and put on the heat to cook at a lively simmer for 45 minutes. By this time they’ll be soft but not squashy. They’re done when you can squash them between your fingers. Meanwhile, finely chop the anchovy fillets and gently warm them in a frying pan until they begin to liquefy. Stir them into the mayonnaise, along with the lemon juice and cayenne. It’ll keep in a screw-top jar for a few days. Probably even longer.

Drain and mash the beans with a potato masher or give them a whiz, just for a few seconds, in the food processor. Stir in the garlic, shallot, egg and grated cheese. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add a bit of chilli pepper if you like. We’ve also tried it with a pinch of paprika, that works nicely, too. Leave to cool. The mixture should be a stiffish paste.

Roll the mixture into rounds and flatten into little patties. Put some flour on your hands as you roll them, otherwise you’ll get in a right old mess. We speak from experience. You should get about 12 flattish patties. Drop them into the beaten egg, then the crumbs, then fry in hot, shallow oil until crisp, about 3 minutes either side. Eat hot, with huge dollops of the anchovy mayonnaise and a wedge of lemon. Goes nicely with a simple green salad. Seriously scrummy stuff!

Read our review of Real Cooking and, if you fancy, buy it here

We'd love to know what you think