Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recipe - White Bean and Tomato Stew with Sausage

I've been making variations of this stew for years. It's a winter staple for me.

Usually, I've used Italian sausage in this stew. However, I recently found a chicken andouille that took this to the HNL (that's a 'Hole. Notha. Level.) It's made by Applegate Organics. Since I realized that even most poultry sausages have pork casings, it's been harder to find a great sausage for my stew. But this sausage is insanely good. It's also quite spicy, so if you don't like spice, you may want to try the Applegate Farms Chicken and Apple Sausage. I found both at Whole Foods.

Don't let the word "sausage" deter those of you who are making sustainable eating choices to reduce your meat consumption. If you're strictly veg, this delicious stew can be made with veggie sausage. Field Roast Italian Sausage is a winner, and the flavors go well with this stew.

A couple of other notes on ingredients:
- Greens: I think chard is the ideal green for this stew. It just adds such a richness. But if it's not available, spinach can work in a pinch.
- Beans: I always use great Northern beans for this stew. There are other white beans (navy, cannellini) but the great Northern are just the right size and consistency. However, if you can't find them, another white bean is a good choice.
- Spices: I never keep track of the spices I use. Basically, I look in the cupboard, and then throw stuff into the pot until it tastes the way I want. Salt and pepper are a good place to start. Don't be frightened to experiment a bit, particularly with amounts. I've listed approximate amounts and spices below, but don't be afraid to do more or less. In particular, I like my food spicy. If you don't, definitely ease up on the chili (and don't choose the andouille sausage!)

Final note: I'm organizing the ingredients "mis-en-place" style. I've found that this recipe is easiest when you create a bowl for all the ingredients that go into the pot together. So I'm going to list them as "Bowl 1" "Bowl 2" etc. Clever, eh?

White Bean and Tomato Stew with Sausage


1 package (4-5 links) Italian or Andouille chicken, turkey, or vegetarian sausage

In Bowl 1, put:
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1 red, orange, or green pepper, chopped

In Bowl 2, put:
4-5 chopped mushrooms
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 zuchini, chopped
Any other veggies (carrots, celery, etc.) that you liked

In Bowl 3, put:
approx. 2 cups chopped chard, spinach, or other greens
chopped basil (optional)

Additional Ingredients:
Olive oil
1 can of great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (I recommend the Muir Glen Fire-Roasted Organic Diced Tomatoes)
Approx. 2 cups vegetable broth
A lemon

Salt (1/2 - 1 tsp or 3-4 turns of grinder)
Pepper (1 tsp or 5-6 turns of grinder)
Oregano (1-2 tsp or 3-4 shakes)
Chili powder (1 tsp or 2 shakes)
Red chili flakes (only if using Italian sausage or if you like your food very spicy)
Remember - rather than measuring all your spices, I recommend using your taste buds to determine how much you want! But don't forget, you can't take spice out once it's in the pot!

Step 1: put a little olive oil in the bottom of a large stewpot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the sausages. Cook, turning occasionally, until the outsides are browned.

Step 2: using a spatula, scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, because those will be delicious. Add the contents of Bowl 1, and cook until the onions start to turn translucent.

Step 3: Add the contents of Bowl 2 to the pot with the tomatoes. Mix everything up. If the juice from the tomatoes doesn't cover the veggies, add broth just to cover. At this point, the sausage should be cool enough to handle, so cut it on the diagonal into pieces of about a half-inch. Simmer while you're cutting the sausage.

Step 4: Add and the beans, sausage, and the rest of the broth. Add the spices, tasting as you go. Don't burn your tongue! (Note - don't put in too much spice at this point, because the heat from the sausages won't yet have been infused into the broth.) Bring the stew up to a boil again, reduce heat and simmer for about 25 min.

Step 5: Stir in the contents of Bowl 3. Add a squeeze of lemon juice from a half of a lemon. Stir and taste. Does it need more chili? More salt? Add spices to taste. Simmer for about 10-15 more minutes.

Step 6: Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes or so.

I always like to serve this with a baguette or some Sister Schubert yeast rolls. It tastes even better as leftovers, when the flavors have had time to meld together.

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