We had a killing frost last weekend. We were away, of course (the theme for 2015, it appears, is “Away“), this time in Bucks County, PA (with a quick side-trip to Hackettstown, NJ to see our friend Joe’s new brewery, Man Skirt Brewing – you should go!) to visit friends. Morning temps dipped below freezing there as well, and we woke up to bright blue skies, brisk wind, and a touch of frost on the grass. I knew this frost was coming: my Instagram feed had been full of last-minute garden harvests from all manner of friends with greener thumbs than I. But, in the midst of a barrage of images of slightly green tomatoes, overflowing bowls of chile peppers, and piles of tender greens, did it occur to me to take my beautiful little Cuban oregano plant indoors? No, my friends. No it did not. Proof positive that I am aces at killing anything and everything. #RIP Cuban oregano plant. You only hurt the ones you love.
A lot of leaves came down with that killing frost, carpeting the trails in the park in crunchy, aromatic drifts. There’s still Fall beauty to be had, though, like the glorious yellow trees right outside my window. It’s made all the more special by that nip in the air that tells you it will be oh-so fleeting.
Nippy air and crunchy leaves and failing daylight make the comfort of a good stew all the more appealing. Heaven knows this blog is no stranger to a good bean-and-sausage stew: I’ve discussed (more than once!) the fact that no one needs to read another of my ubiquitous bean stew recipes. But this particular stew – it was so layered, so complex, so smoky and rich and nutty and wonderful – well, I wanted to be able to make it again. And, rarely for me, make it exactly this way again: it was that good. So, here you are, reading yet another bean and sausage stew recipe. #sorrynotsorry
This beauty builds a complex flavor profile in a number of ways: Spanish sofrito, put up last Fall and just waiting for a gorgeous stew like this; slow-roasted tomatoes, from the tomato triage the other day; smoky local chorizo, nicely browned before added to the stew; nutty tepary beans, cooked that morning; spicy aromatics, sautéed in olive oil & chorizo fat, and rich chicken stock to blend it all together. Served with a hearty winter ale and a handful or tortilla chips, it was perfect on a nippy Fall Tuesday night. And not too shabby as a nippy Fall Wednesday morning breakfast either.
Make this one. You won’t be sorry. Happy Fall!
- ½ lb white tepary beans, soaked overnight
- 3 to 4 lbs plum tomatoes
- olive oil
- sea salt & pepper
- 1 lb smoked chorizo, links halved lengthwise
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
- 6 tbsp sofrito (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 quart stock, chicken or pork
- Cook the beans. In a medium bean pot or heavy Dutch oven, add the beans and soaking water, plus enough additional water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook, covered, until beans a tender but still retain their shape, about 90 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt in the last 30 minutes of cooking time. Drain, rinse and set aside.
- Roast the tomatoes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Halve plum tomatoes lengthwise, using enough to fill a rimmed baking sheet (reserve any remaining tomatoes for another recipe). Place cut side down on the baking sheet, brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with flaky sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch or two of dried oregano. Roast at 375 F until the tops begin to blacken slightly (about 10 – 15 minutes), then reduce heat to 300 F and roast until tomatoes are very soft, fragrant, and tops/skins are very brown to black, about 60 – 90 minutes. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly, then pluck off skins and discard.
- Brown sausage. In a large, wide Dutch oven or deep skillet, heat a splash of olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add chorizo, cut side down, taking care not to crowd the pan (brown in batches if necessary). Cook sausage over medium-high heat, turning only once, until nicely browned (reduce heat if oil starts to burn and smoke). Remove to a clean plate. Once cooled, chop links into bite-sized pieces.
- Sauté aromatics. Add chopped onion to the pan, scraping up fond or browned bits from the sausage. Sprinkle with salt. Add another splash of olive oil if necessary. Reduce heat to medium-low and sauté onions until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño pepper; sauté 1 minute. Add sofrito and oregano: raise heat slightly and, stirring constantly, fry sofrito until vegetables are well coated and mixture is uniform, about 1 minute. Add bell peppers, stir and sauté about 2 minutes.
- Cook stew. Add roasted tomatoes, with any pan juices, to the pot. Break up larger tomato pieces with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add drained tepary beans and stock, along with a large pinch of salt. Add browned sausage. Stir well, cover, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables soften and flavors blend, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.
Serves 6 to 8.
- The smoked chorizo really adds to the flavor of this dish, but if you can’t find any, try adding in a bit of chipotle or smoked paprika instead.
- Any small white bean will work here, but I really encourage you to try tepary beans: they are truly unique and no substitution will taste quite the same.
Refrigerated for up to 5 days. Like all stews, this one will thicken and flavors will ‘ripen’ over time.