Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sausage & Bean Stew

When I was thinking of making this sausage & bean stew, I turned to my mother.  It isn't unusual for us to discuss food during our daily chats over the phone, so recently the conversation turned to beans.  Her favorites at the moment include black beans & Peruvian beans (also called canary beans) that are slowly simmered until tender.  What kind do I like?  I also love black beans as much as mom does, but I also crave pink beans, cannellinis, Roman, pinto, navy, garbanzos and lentils.  It's sometimes easier and more convenient to make bean dishes with canned beans, but if you plan just a bit ahead of time, dried beans are even tastier. 

If I know I'm going to cook beans a certain day, I always pick them over the night before (usually after I've cleaned up after dinner) and soak them in a large bowl with plenty of water (at least 3 times the amount of beans); any beans that float should be discarded.  The bowl is left out at room temperature. 


The following day, I drain the beans & discard all of the soaking water.  I then place the beans in a large dutch oven or wide stock pot & cover with cold water.  You want 1" of water above the beans.  Turn on your flame to high & bring them up to a simmer.

  


The Ingredients
  • 1 lb. dried beans (such as pink, navy or canary), picked over, soaked overnight
  • 3 strips of bacon (your favorite)
  • 12 oz. smoked kielbasa, andouille or other smoked sausage of your choice, sliced 1/4 " thick
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled & left whole
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & pepper

Yield: about 6-8 servings.

1. In a dry nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, fry the bacon until all of the fat is rendered and it is nicely browned (you don't want the bacon to burn so watch your flame), about 10 minutes.  Set aside on a paper toweled plate & coarsely chop when cool enough to handle. 

2. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat in the frying pan (if you don't have enough - turkey bacon doesn't render fat like pork - add 1 tablespoon canola oil) and fry the onion & jalapeños until soft, 5-7 minutes. 

3. Add all of your ingredients, except the smoked sausage, into the pot of beans.  When everything comes to just under a boil, lower your heat and simmer.  The beans will take anywhere from 1-2 hours to become tender.  Halfway through cooking, I add 1 teaspoon of salt & give the beans a good stir.   

4. As soon as the beans are tender, add the sliced sausage.  Since smoked kielbasa is already cooked you only want to heat it through.  This should take about 10 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and add a few pinches of ground black pepper to taste.


The stew is ready to serve.  Ladle into bowls and serve hot.



My favorite way to eat this type of dish?  Served over steamed rice (quinoa is also good) with just a bit of the cooking liquid.  Add some chopped cilantro to garnish and tuck a large, generous spoon.  Enjoy! 



Go back to the basics and use dried legumes to cook my Sausage & Bean stew.  A long, slow simmer and just a handful of ingredients is all you need to make a tasty dish for dinner.  Your kitchen will entice everyone with the inviting smell of simmering, tender beans and savory, smoked sausage.  When serving, add as much of the cooking liquid as your loved ones want or serve them with no liquid.  Pour a glass of pinot noir and voilà, dinner is served. 

2 comments:

  1. Yum. I love beans and rice. I normally cook red kidney beans, and my recipe is quite similar to yours, although I use bell pepper instead of jalapenos. I also add beer to the liquid, which gives a wonderful, rich sweetness.

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  2. Oh wow, I hadn't even thought of adding beer to my beans, but that sure does sound delicious. Kidney beans are also favorites at my home! Bon Appetit!

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