Because clearly what this blog needs is another stew recipe. And I don’t have enough to say about heirloom beans. Because my personal Spice Rack Challenge is to use the free sample spice mixes from Penzey’s for something other than pumpkin seeds. Because I haven’t been to the farmer’s market in three weeks and I’m down to one lonely carrot, 4 pumpkins and a few Trader Joe’s onions (she hangs her locavore head in shame) in the kitchen larder.
Or maybe it’s because, when the view outside your window looks like this, all you can think about are hot, spicy, filling, comforting stews. Stews served in an open air café just off Jackson Square, ceiling fans lazily spinning, while you beat the heat with an ice cold Blackened Voodoo, and contemplate the day’s schedule: a lazy stroll along the waterfront, with nothing but the Gulf breeze and the slap of your flip flops in the air; take the clanging St. Charles streetcar out to the Garden District and wander among the mansions of a different age; maybe just people-watching & beignets at Café du Monde before you bypass the crowds on Bourbon and head to the Frenchman for contemporary jazz and good beer.
Sigh. Is it Spring yet?
- 1/2 lb dried flageolet beans (about 3 cups cooked)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 lb smoked Cajun sausage, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp Cajun spice mix
- 2 cups diced bell pepper, about 2 or 3 peppers (fresh or frozen)
- 1 long green chile pepper (fresh or frozen)
- 1 small red chile pepper (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
- 2 pints (or 1, 28-oz can) whole tomatoes, with juice
- 2 tbsp tomato paste, optional
- salt & pepper, to taste
- Tabasco, for serving
- Rinse the beans and soak overnight in water to cover by 2 inches (alternatively, eliminate the soak and simply cook for longer). Transfer the beans to a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, with their soaking liquid, and cover with additional fresh water by 1 inch. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are tender, about 45 – 90 minutes (depending on the age of your beans). Add 1/2 tsp salt in the last 15 minutes of cooking. Reserve beans in their cooking liquid.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, brown sausage slices, in batches, making sure not to crowd the pan. Transfer cooked sausages to a clean plate and pour off sausage grease into a bowl in between batches.
- Deglaze skillet with the wine, scraping up all the browned sausage bits. Add back in the sausage grease, and once hot, saute the onions over medium-low heat until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cayenne pepper and Cajun spice and saute for 1 minute. Add chile peppers, bell peppers and corn; stir and saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, with juices, breaking up whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Add the cooked beans and enough of the bean cooking liquid to just cover the stew (if there is not enough, add water or stock to cover).
- Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring now and then. Partially uncover and simmer for another 30 – 60 minutes, until the stew has thickened to your liking. You can also add some tomato paste to thicken as desired. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot with crusty bread or whole wheat biscuits and garnished with a healthy slug of Tabasco.
- Andouille, or even a spicy smoked chorizo, would work as a substitute if you cannot find a smoked Cajun sausage.
- Great Northern beans are the typical substitute for flageolet, but I find them a completely different flavor. Flageolets are really quite light; I thought the flavor might get a bit lost in this spicy stew, but it seems to work.
- This stew is not overly spicy as written; you could easily dial up the chile peppers, cayenne or Cajun mix for additional heat.
Refrigerated for about 1 week. Like all stews, this will thicken, and only improve, on the second day.