Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Is that a kielbasa, or are you just happy to see me?

When the increasingly absurd weather took a brief dive back down the thermometer, my thoughts again turned to the comforting, simmering warmth of a stew. In keeping with my intention to cook more out of my own cookbooks, I found myself browsing through Patricia Wells' "Bistro Cooking".

I pretty much honed right on in to "Les Pyrenes Stew of White Beans, Cabbage, Ham and Preserved Goose". Patricia points out that if one doesn't have access to goose confit and goose gizzards, one could easily substitute kielbasa, or some other good quality smoked sausage.

I used Nathan’s “We don’t only make hot dogs” Famous Keilbasa, and put it in about half an hour earlier than called for. This soup uses no chicken broth or stock, yet magically transforms itself into a flavourful and hearty bowl full of goodness. It’ll cure what ails ya.

White Bean, Cabbage and Kielbasa Stew

adapted from Patricia Wells' "Bistro Cooking"

1 1/2 cups (10 ounces/300 g) dried white beans
3 ounces (90g) Parma ham (I used Smithfield ham, cubed)
8 garlic clvoes, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
4 leeks, trimmed, well rinsed, and cut into thin rounds (I substituted green onions)
1/2 green cabbage, quartered
1 pound (500g) potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 14-oz kielbasa, or other smoked sausage, sliced or cubed

Cover beans with water, and let sit overnight.
Drain and rinse the beans the following day. Add cold water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove pan from heat, leave covered, and let rest 40 minutes. Drain the beans, discarding all cooking liquid.

In a large flameproof casserole, combine beans, ham and garlic. Add 2 quarts (2l) of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, and add the carrots, onions, and leeks. Season lightly with salt. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Add smoked sausage, cover, and continue to simmer 30 minutes more.

Add cabbage and potatoes and continue cooking until all of the vegetables are tender, about 15-20 minutes more.

Serve immediately in wide, shallow bowls. Even with all the starches present, I must add that thick slice of toasted bread really hit the spot.

Serves 4-6.


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