Category: Ham hocks

38 Power Foods, Week 25 — Dried Beans — French Beans with Smoked Sausage and Chicken

38 Power Foods, Week 25 — Dried Beans — French Beans with Smoked Sausage and Chicken

Nothing like the fragrance of rosemary for remembrance filling the house in December.

 I’m not a cheap cook, but I have always looked for inexpensive ways to provide our daily bread.  Raising a house full of kids, I often had no choice.  Even today, when we’re empty nesters with a bit more funds than when the kids were home, I look for ways to save a bit here and there because it’s the right thing to do.  It’s often healthy, too.   I buy the best I can find for the least amount of money.  If you’ve ever cooked for a soup kitchen, or worked in a food pantry, you’ll know that beans go a long way, are low in calories, and high in fiber.  They’re filling and versatile.  They can also be yummy.  Hence this pot of smokey-fragrant “French” beans with lots of

  • smoked ham (or pork chop)
  • vegetables,
  • big flavors of rosemary, thyme, and bay, 
  • browned chicken thighs, legs, (I like Kadejan chicken from Glenwood, MN) and…
  • sausage pieces.

What makes the beans French?  Probably the herbs and the nod toward a très simple and abbreviated version of cassoulet, which takes three days to make using the traditional method.  I use regular navy or white beans; the French often use  tiny white beans called flageolets.  (For my easier, but still two-day version of cassoulet, click here.  I’ll freely admit it needs better photos…phewee.) If you don’t know what cassoulet is, it’s a holiday or large-group gathering winter French meal that includes beans, vegetables, sausage, duck confit, pork, and more.  There are layers of cooking involved and a final, huge deep oven-baked pan of oh-my-cook goodness to feed the masses.  Lots of lusty red Rhone wine is required, as are copious amounts of baguette to soak up the never-should-be dry bowlful.  Cassoulet is a celebration I occasionally do for Christmas Eve.  This year, I’m trying not to conquer the world in just one day; I have no idea what we’re having, though a great big bowl of Bolognese is in my freezer.  (What riches!)

While this is not a fast recipe (nor is it the three-day marathon), it’s one to enjoy making when  you need to be at home anyway.  I think it truly is a one-dish meal.  You could add a salad if you want, but I’m not sure you need bother.  A little cheese afterward perhaps.

Maybe make this when snow flies or folks are on the way and a nice pot of anything will be the relaxed ticket for the evening.  I’m convinced the reason many people don’t cook (or say they don’t have time to cook) is because they just don’t stay at home.  Our running, crazy world keeps us distracted and sometimes isolated despite all of our “connectivity.”  There’s a lot of feeling good to be done around a bit slower life that includes some cooking and sharing of meals.   Invite someone over to play cards for the afternoon while this is in the oven (and everyone oo’s and ah’s over the great smells) or serve for a post-holiday meal to use up some of the ham you made for Christmas or New Year’s.

Here’s the “recipe” in photo form…   It’s really a method and precise amounts aren’t truly necessary.  Use your inner creative cook!

french  beans with smoked sausage and chicken
  serves 6        
 Cooks note:   You’ll need to soak a pound of  dry white beans overnight just covered with water or
                       quick-soak them by covering with water, bringing to a boil, and covering for one 
                       hour before beginning this recipe. 

Simmer over medium heat a minute or two in an 6-8 quart heavy pot*: 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of crushed red pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper...until fragrant.  (Flavor the oil.)  Do not add salt until beans are at least half-way cooked.

Chop 1 large onion, 3 cloves garlic, 3 stalks celery, and 3 carrots.

Add vegetables to pot with 2 rosemary sprigs, 1 teaspoon dried Thyme and 1 bay leaf. Stir. (The rosemary will come apart during the cooking.  You’ll remove the leftover twig at the end.)

While the vegetables cook for five minutes, or so, chop 1/2 cup smoked ham, ham hock, or smoked pork chop.  (I just cut some off a ham hock and froze the rest of the ham hock.  Cook another five minutes, stirring.
To bring up the browned bits on the bottom (deglaze) the pot, add 1/2 cup white wine.  Simmer 2-3 minutes, stirring.

 

Pour in 5 cups chicken stock and 2 tablespoons tomato paste.   Bring to a boil.  Add one pound rinsed and soaked dry white beans.*   Reduce heat to simmer.

Cover and let cook an hour or so until beans have just begun to soften.  Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; taste and re-season if necessary.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meantime, pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a large skillet heated over medium flame.  Salt and pepper well 6 chicken legs and thighs** and cook them about ten minutes on each side until nicely browned, but not done all the way through.  

Slice about 8 ounces of smoked sausage  into 1/2″ thick slices   (I used Aidell’s smoked Italian Sausage with Mozzerella; Kielbasa would be fine) and..

add to the pan of browned chicken.  Let cook about two minute or until hot.  Add chicken and sausage to the pot of beans, gently pressing chicken down into the bean mixture not necessarily to cover, but to moisten.
Bring to a boil, cover, and place pot in preheated oven.  Let bake until beans are tender and chicken is cooked through, about an hour.  Taste and re-season as needed.  Remove rosemary “branches,” but leave bay leaf in. Whoever gets it has good luck!
Serve hot in large, shallow bowls with sturdy bread and a big glass of red Rhone.

*If you use a 6 quart pot instead of a 8 quart pot, you may not be able to fit all of the chicken in it. Put four pieces of chicken and all of the sausage in the pot before baking and continue cooking additional two pieces of chicken stove top until they are done.  Cool and reserve to add to the pot when the beans are tender and  you take it out of  the oven.  I used the Le Creuset 26, which translates to close to 6 quarts.  Make sure you check your pot’s manufacturer’s directions for the safest oven temperature.  Some pots are 350 degrees Fahrenheit; some are 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

**I like dark meat for slow cooking.  If you like breasts (white meat), go ahead and use them, but I think they will get over done here unless you almost totally cook the beans stove top first and only
put the entire pot into the oven for the time it takes to finish the breasts.

about dried beans (from livestrong.com)

Pinto beans, black-eyed peas and lentils are some commonly-eaten dried beans. The recommended serving size for pinto beans is 1 cup. This serving contains 120 calories, no fat, 10 g of dietary fiber and 9 g of protein. Black-eyed peas should be eaten in 1/2 c serving sizes, which each yield 130 calories, 0.5 g of fat, 5 g of dietary fiber and 10 g of protein. Lentils should be eaten in 1/2 cup servings, each of which contains 115 calories. A serving of lentils contains 0.4 g of fat, 7.8 g of dietary fiber and 8.9 g of protein.  (White beans are a bit more calorie-wise)

about our blogging group
We’re just getting ready to take a break from group  blogging for the rest of December….We’ll be back cooking in cahoots come January:
 
 I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about tasty beans at these sites:

Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

 If you liked this, you might also like:
Sing a new song; cook some beans,
Alyce 
Tuscan Bean Soup or It Might as Well be Spring

Tuscan Bean Soup or It Might as Well be Spring

One-pot, no soak Tuscan Bean Soup with Rosemary and Chicken

Hot, cold.  Hot, cold.  The weather here is like a menopausal woman.  To be fair, it hasn’t been hot.  Except in my house where there’s a radiator stuck on high.  According to local legend, it can’t be fixed until summer.   Who said?  So when I clean the bathroom upstairs, I turn into a sauna.   That’s right, I used the correct pronoun.

Outdoors yesterday, the temperature hit about 41 degrees Fahrenheit.   The Macalester College running club (We live about 4 blocks from “Mac.”)  ran by in T-tiny shorts singing,

“We’re  having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave.  The temperature’s rising; it isn’t surprising…”

 While I’m the first girl to put on her tee shirt and grill (actually I don’t grill outdoors and don’t care to learn–that’s what Dave is for), I’ll always have to admit I adore indoor and cozy cooking.  I like it cold enough to leave the oven on for hours happily braising while I read. (“I’m cooking today.”)  Or for a soup to giggle and pop all afternoon on the stove.  I’m the woman Hillary Clinton didn’t want to be…I did stay home and bake cookies. Among other things.  So I’m the only person in the Twin Cities who is glad it’s still kinda cold.  (It’s 67 in Colorado Springs; I’ve been watching.)  Everyone else is giving their flip flops a test run in the lingering snow while I am snug in my Clarks’ boots.  I’ll give you this:  my blood is still thickening after 15 years in Colorado where the beautiful weather is a well-kept secret.

What’s the pits is that the dogs are so funky dirty stinky from the melting snow-mud that I’d like to drop them off at the groomers and let them live there for the next month.  We’ve got a dog shower in the basement (no joke) that I guess I’ll break down and use, though they’ll just be filthy again in ten and my back will hurt.

Dad’s in a big meeting on the phone; we have to stay out. Whah.

 All that said (are you tired of that phrase?) I’m still in the mood for homey, warming soups and stews.  Not only because the weather calls for them, but also because they feed us well, healthily and economically.  Who doesn’t like to cook once and eat thrice?  Or eat once, freeze and eat once a week for the next two?  Or share like we’ll do tonight with a friend.  I’ll take some bread to a neighbor who adores bread, too.

Here’s the No-Knead Bread I made for the soup.

What’s food for if it isn’t shared?  Speaking of which, the book TAKE THIS BREAD, by Sara Miles is life-changing (as I mentioned at the end of the last post).  A “radical” conversation about communion, the book is also a lot about food, feeding people, and what that all means to you and me.  In my world (in my heart), we are called to feed one another in many ways…but I believe firmly that we are called to share, eat and love one another because of it.  While there are no atheists in fox holes, there might also be no enemies around a dinner table.  What?  We could toast,

Here’s to you.  I hate you.

I don’t think so.  Touching bread together is a means of healing.  In many ways.

Here’s to this soup; it’s something you could easily share.  Don’t be afraid.  People love to be invited.  They don’t care if you haven’t swept (and if they do, they need to get over THAT), but they care that someone is interested enough in them to want to spend an evening –a morning, an afternoon– with them.  They care that someone loves enough to cook.  A restaurant meal (much the thing now) isn’t the same.  To begin with, the restaurant:

  1. is expensive
  2. might not be healthy
  3. wants you gone
  4. wants to have someone else at your table
  5. wants to make more money
  6. doesn’t put your love into the food

All right, I’ll give you this:  they might.  Many cooks/chefs really want the best for their customers, but just as many simply want it to be nine o’clock. 

Beans, water,  ham hock and rosemary…it starts like this.

 So call a friend(s), throw the place mats on the table, turn on the music, light the candles, pour the wine, and make this soup.  Not in that order.  Some tiny bit of a crunchy salad and a chewy boule or baguette round out the meal and the bread’s great for dunking.  A couple of tiny cookies or a small scoop of gelato would be sweet for an ending.    (Wine? I like a Cotes du Rhone here, but you might prefer a light Italian red like a Moltepulciano.) Here’s the story in pictures:

Start with a great ham hock.

Cook the beans with onion, rosemary and the ham hock.  No salt.

Remove the hock, add stock, chicken pieces, and veg.

Throw in a couple of tomatoes with the chicken and vegetables; remove to cool, peel easily, and chop.

Chop the rosemary finely this time; you don’t want to eat a Christmas tree.

Carefully chop meat from hock.  Remove fat and tendons; check for bones.

Now that’s an easy way to peel a tomato.

The chicken, simmered in liquid, is done quickly.  Remove, cool, skin, bone, and shred.

Put it all back in the pot and let her roll. Turn down and simmer. 

 Cook’s Note:  No cooking and letting the beans sit for an hour; no overnight soak. You just start cooking the beans for this soup in one pan and add EVERYTHING else in a row.  Total cooking/prep time is 3 hours, perhaps less.  I gave it an extra 30 minutes simmer to come together at the end.  Of course it’s great the next day after all the ingredients swam in the same sea, slept in the same bed, washed in the same water, or whatever metaphor floats your boat.

Tuscan Bean Soup with Rosemary and Chicken makes 5 qts approximately

1/2-3/4# dried cannellini or northern white bean/navy beans
1 ham hock (I used half a large one)
2 large onions, peeled and chopped, divided
4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
2 sprigs rosemary, divided  (Leave one whole; mince the other.)

3 pieces chicken with bones and skin
1 qt chicken stock, low or no salt
1 c white wine or water
2 firm red tomatoes (or 1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes)
1 c chopped carrots
3 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
(1/4 c chopped cabbage, 1/4 c chopped green beans, optional-I had them and put them in.)
1/4 c chopped parsley
Kosher salt; freshly ground pepper (start with 1 tsp salt and 1/8 t pepper)
Several drops of Tabasco or other hot sauce (or a pinch of crushed red pepper or ground cayenne)

1 c fresh spinach leaves

1/2 c Parmesan
Zest of 1 fresh lemon

  1. Bring to a boil beans and 2-3 qts peppered (no salt) water.  Add  ham hock, 1 of the chopped onions, and a whole sprig of rosemary.  (Leave the stem in until soup is done; the leaves will have cooked and become quite tender at the end of 3 hours.) Lower heat, cover partially, and let cook at a low boil for about 1 1/2 hours until beans are becoming tender.  Add some water if beans are not boiling freely.  Remove ham hock, cool, shred (leave out fat and gristle) and return meat to pot.
  2. Add chicken stock, wine or water, 3 pieces of chicken, and all of the vegetables/herbs (including the other chopped onion, the other sprig of minced rosemary, and the other 2 chopped garlic cloves) except the spinach.  Stir in salt, pepper and Tabasco.  Return to a boil; lower heat and simmer 2-3 minutes.  Remove tomatoes and let cool a few minutes.  Skin, chop and return tomatoes to pot.
  3. Cook soup until chicken is no longer pink in middle and vegetables are tender, 20 minutes or so.  Remove chicken and let cool for five minutes. Skin, bone and chop.  Return meat to the pot; discard bones and skin.  (Unless you have a dog who likes chicken skin.)  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  4. Remove 2 cups of the soup and puree in the food processor or mash well with a potato masher.  You could also use an immersion blender very briefly.* Return mashed soup to pot, stir, and bring to a boil.   Cook a couple of minutes and lower heat to a bare simmer.
  5. Add spinach; cook 1 minute.  Stir well.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  More salt?  Pepper?  Hot sauce?  Carefully add just a teense of any of these and taste again.   Serve hot  with 1T grated Parmesan and a 1/2 tsp lemon rind to top each large bowl.  A dusting of pepper might be welcome as well.

*You want a soup that shows all of its elements–beans, vegetables and meat–merely thickened by the small amount of pureed soup.  You don’t want a totally pureed soup.

Two-Dog Kitchen

In St. Paul, spring wants to come.  People and animals (see brave bunny below) are all ready for warming sun, a day in the yard, a stroll in the park.  I must say they are hardy creatures, though.  There hasn’t yet been a day when folks aren’t taking a walk, shopping, etc.  Snow, 14 degrees, wind, whatever.  These are outdoor people.  One day when I thought it was WAY too cold to venture far beyond the warm car, I saw a dad wheeling a stroller, taking the kid for a spin.  I got on my boots, tied up my scarf, and went for a walk.  I’m learning.

Pat the bunny.  Our reason to bark.  A lot.

Dad loves us again and is off the phone with people.  Office furniture on order.  Also paint.

We really didn’t.

Sing a new song,
Alyce