Tuscan White Bean Stew

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

In our ongoing 2015 series of soups and stews, we wanted to revisit one we make regularly and love. We did this recipe a couple of years ago which was a riff on today’s Cook’s Illustrated stew. This recipe is found in THE Cookbook, as my brother John calls it – The Science of Good Cooking from Cook’s Illustrated. It’s chock full of just what it promises, cooking science! The 2013 version used Italian sausage as the meat flavoring and cabbage as the vegetable. Today’s version uses pancetta and kale. While I liked both of these spins on the stew, I think the perfect combo will be sausage and kale. We will report back!

Margaux says . . .

I love this stew, and was excited to make this variation! This stew is so hearty and delicious, I’ve made it with the sausage and cabbage several times. I agree with Aunt Suzy, though, that kale and sausage would be the perfect combo. I will definitely make it that way next time! I love serving this with a loaf of crusty sourdough and a green salad. Yum!

Ingredients

Table salt
1 pound dried cannelini beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over
1 tablespoon EV olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 large onion, medium dice
2 medium celery ribs, ½-inch dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
8 medium garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with a garlic press
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 bunch kale,  stems trimmed and leaves chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Black pepper to taste

Brining the beans: Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Alternatively if you’re in a hurry, bring the beans in the brining water to a boil. Turn off the heat and let stand for 1 hour.  For both methods, when done soaking, drain and rinse well.

Making the stew: Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees. Remove all racks except the bottom one.
Heat oil and pancetta in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, 6 to 10 minutes. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, bay leaves, and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are almost tender (very center of beans will still be firm), abut 45 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the prepared greens and tomatoes. Cover pot, return to oven, and continue to cook until beans and greens are fully tender, 20 to 30 minutes longer.

Remove pot from oven and submerge rosemary sprig in stew. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves and rosemary sprig and season stew with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over toasted bread, if desired, and drizzle with olive oil. Alternatively serve with a nice crusty baguette.

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Deconstructed Cabbage Stew

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

It’s soup season and we love soups and stews here at S&SK! We’ve decided to do a Soup/Stew series this fall/winter season where we cook and blog about new recipes like this one and revisit old recipes to provide updates on some of our favorites. We just decided this late last week and voila! this recipe appeared in our Minneapolis paper in a regular column Sunday Supper.  The Minneapolis contingent of S&SK loved this dish (slightly adapted in ingredients and method from the original), both with and without the sour cream. We served with a baguette and some dark beer. Randy and I both thought it would be really good with a sour dough bread as well.

Deconstructed Cabbage Stew

Margaux says . . .

Jason and I loved this, too! The kids not as much, but since it was such a hit with Jason and me, I will try it again…I think the new flavors were what put the kids off, and sometimes we just need to try things a few times before they like it. The fun part about this was that my 6-year-old loves knowing what country our foods originate from, and we’ve never really had Hungarian food before, so he was really excited about this. We pulled out our world map and found where Hungary is, and then looked it up on the internet. We looked at pictures of Budapest, of the countryside, talked about traditions there, what music they listen to and different foods they eat. This is something I started last year when I was homeschooling him, and it has just become sort of the norm around here. His favorite so far is “Italian night,” which of course we do on a pretty regular basis. Sometimes we really “do it up” and make up a restaurant name, create a sign for our restaurant, put on music from that country while I’m cooking. It’s really fun!

I also served this with a baguette…I’ve been making my own bread lately with a book Aunt Suzy got me, “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,”  which I can’t recommend enough! It makes bread making so easy, and the results are amazing. The baguette was sourdough, and it went perfectly with the stew. We had it with a cotes du Rhone, because it’s what we had on hand, and it was pretty good!

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Stew

Ingredients
1 1/2 lb. ground pork, beef or dark-meat turkey (Margaux used ground pork and AS used 1 lb. ground turkey)

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, chopped

1/2 medium head regular or savoy cabbage, cut in 1/2-inch strips – about 12 cups

1-2 tablespoons sweet paprika

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste

4 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire or Pick-a-Peppa sauce

1/2 c. long grain rice (white or brown)

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 2 tablespoons dried

Sour cream for serving

Directions

Cook meat over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pot, drain grease and wipe with a paper towel. Heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion, carrot and cabbage. Sprinkle with paprika, allspice and cayenne and stir to blend. Add the browned meat back to the pot and cook, stirring, until cabbage is wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add stock, tomatoes, vinegar, brown sugar and Worcestershire or Pick-a-Peppa. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, until cabbage is tender, 20-40 minutes to taste. (AS likes things more al dente so cooked for just 20 minutes.)

Add rice and season with salt and pepper. Cook, covered, until rice is just tender (it will cook more off the heat), about 15 minutes. If using brown rice, put in when you add the stock, etc.

Stir in dill. Serve in soup bowls with dollops of sour cream.

Vegetarian directions – from Margaux:

I have one vegetarian in my family, so any time we have a dish with meat, I have to make a veg version. This one was really easy. Cook the stew according to directions, just eliminating the meat at the beginning (and using vegetable stock, of course). When you add the rice, also add one can (or two cups cooked) great northern beans. We thought the beans were a great addition to the stew!