On the fifth day of Thanksgiving, bring the turkey stock that wouldn’t fit into the ice cube tray to a simmer. Pick the bread out of your leftover stuffing and add what remains to the pot (cremini mushrooms, Italian sausage, fennel and leeks in this case). Add a few sliced carrots. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Roughly chop and add the remaining turkey meat. Add a big bunch of swiss chard. Proceed to eat this for the next three days, noting that you really just kicked the leftover can a little further down the road. But hey, at least you worked a little fiber into the equation.
This post contains two recipes which, when combined, yield a very nice pot of chili for four. I recommend doubling the bean recipe and setting half aside so that you can throw together quick dinners of tacos, huevos ranchers and the like throughout the week.
Spicy Black Beans
- 1/2 pound black beans
- 1 tablespoon lard, bacon drippings or other pork fat
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano (or epazote if you’ve got it)
- 2 dried chili de arbol (or substitute cayenne pepper to taste)
- salt and pepper
- Add the beans to a large pot along with enough water to cover them by a few inches. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and let them sit for an hour or more.
- Add the pork fat, onions, garlic, bay leaf and oregano. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for one hour.
- Add the whole peppers and salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for another 30-60 minutes until the beans are quite soft and the cooking liquid has thickened. Remove bay leaf and chilis, transfer beans and cooking liquid to another container, give the pot a quick rinse, and move on to the next recipe.
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili with Hot Beef Sausage
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 links hot beef sausage, sliced into discs (If you can get your hands on Lewis Waite Farm‘s version, I recommend doing so because YUM. But any kind of spicy sausage would yield a great dish.)
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried chipotle and/or smoked habanero powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (Trust me on this; it’s your secret weapon.)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 batch spicy black beans (see above)
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
- Bring the oil up to medium heat in a large pot. Fry your sausage slices in two batches, allowing them to brown and crisp in places.
- Remove the sausage, lower the heat a bit and add your onions. (If there wasn’t much fat left from your sausage, you could add a little more olive oil at this point.) Saute until starting to soften, then add in the spices and cook stirring constantly for one minute. Do the same with the tomato paste.
- Dump your reserved beans and sausage into the pot along with the cider vinegar and enough water that everything is just submerged. Let simmer for 30 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes. Let simmer for another hour. You can add water as you go if needed, but the goal is more of a thick sauce than a broth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
I served this garnished with thinly sliced scallions, avocado slices and some Greek yogurt to counterbalance all of that heat.
Last week was a doozy. I worked late on Friday and arrived home in need of some whiskey and a comforting meal–in that order. Fortunately, the night before I’d thought to defrost some of Lewis Waite Farm‘s most excellent kielbasa and soak some flageolet.
Flageolet are a lovely pale green bean used in rustic French cooking, including cassoulet. I had a classic cassoulet once and it was delicious. Saveur’s recipe calls for duck fat, ham hocks, pork shoulder, pancetta, duck confit legs and pork sausage (that last one being optional) and, by my rough estimate, takes about eight hours. While I am not averse to spending an entire day cooking, eating such a heavy meal at 4:00am seemed ill-advised. The recipe below will yield a rich, comforting meal for a crowd in under two hours.
Working (Wo)man’s Cassoulet
- 1 pound flageolet, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
- 2 tablespoons pork fat (or olive oil)
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
- 1 healthy pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 quart concentrated pork stock (See Going Whole Hog for the recipe. Chicken stock would also suffice, though I might throw a little bacon in at the beginning.)
- 1 pound kielbasa, thinly sliced
- 1 very large carrot, cut into small cubes
- 1 very large daikon radish, cut into small cubes
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 300.
- Melt a tablespoon of pork fat in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft. Add the garlic, tomato paste, herbs, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for another minute. Then add your pork stock plus enough water to cover the beans, turn up the heat to bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
- Melt the other tablespoon of pork fat in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the kielbasa slices in batches, searing on both sides. Dump these in with your beans. Stir in the carrot and radish along with some black pepper.
- Pop a lid on your beans and tuck them into the oven for 30 minutes—or until your empty whiskey glass compels you to go back into the kitchen. Take the pot out of the oven and check on your beans. If they aren’t yet tender, let them go a little longer. If they yield easily to your teeth, stir in the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat up to 350 and place back in the oven uncovered for 45 minutes—or until you’re in desperate need of something to soak up the whiskey.
This recipe was inspired by caldo verde, a traditional Portuguese soup of kale and potatoes garnished with spicy sausage. While caldo verde is usually served for celebrations, I was able to whip this up in under an hour with ingredients I had on hand, making it a fine midweek supper. The ingredients are simple and the recipe is straightforward, but the resulting dish is delightfully complex.
Kale, Sausage & Potato Stew
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounces fresh spicy sausage (I used some loose hot Italian turkey sausage from Di Paola Turkey Farms, which sells its wares at greenmarkets throughout New York City, but whatever you’ve got in the freezer is cool.)
- 2 leeks, thinly sliced and rinsed
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon herbes de provence
- 2 bunches kale, thinly sliced (I used lacinato, but pretty much any kind of kale or collards would work.)
- 2 cups chicken broth (I used about six cubes of frozen contracted stock.)
- six small yellow potatoes, halved and cut into quarter-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon hot paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- Bring the oil up to medium heat in a large dutch oven. Add your sausage and stir until cooked through. Add the leeks and garlic and cook until limp. Stir in the herbes de provence and red pepper flakes.
- Add the kale in batches, stirring until there is room for more. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and enough water to cover. Stir in the paprika, a generous amount of fresh black pepper, and salt if needed
- Let simmer until the potatoes are tender, approximately 30 minutes.
I made gumbo for the third time on Friday and was pleased to see that, once you have the basic concepts down, there are an endless number of ways to riff on this tasty one-pot dish. Pictured here is Friday’s creation, which featured bacon, smoked Louisiana sausage, Maine shrimp tails, okra and mustard greens (these first three ingredients being just a sampling of the proteins lurking in my cramped freezer). Some might consider the mustard greens to be heresy, but I thought that they made for some nice flavor and texture contrast.
What follows is a step-by-step documentation of my very first gumbo. By following these steps, you can make a delicious gumbo using whatever meats, seafood, stock and produce you have on hand. It’s a great way to clean out the freezer.
STEP 1 – Gather a bunch of meat and brown it in batches in a nice big heavy-bottomed pot. In this case, we have duck breast, andouille sausage, kielbasa and smoked hog jowl.
STEP 2 – While you’re browning the meat, dice your veggies. Celery, onion and green pepper (“the holy trinity” of Cajun cooking) are traditional. Carrot, red bell pepper and garlic are nice additions. You can also add jalapenos or other hot chile peppers, if you’re into that kind of thing.
STEP 3 – Transfer browned meat to an even bigger heavy-bottomed pot, add liquid and begin to simmer. An odd beer, some leftover red wine, clam juice and homemade stock from last Thanksgiving’s turkey carcass are just fine. (In the case of the shrimp gumbo pictured above, I used the shrimp shells along with some garlic, celery, carrot, a bay leave and whole black peppercorns to make a quick stock. You could also use a ham hock, which is a great thing to keep stashed in the freezer for soup and stew emergencies.)
STEP 4 – Now it’s time to make the roux. Add approximately as much flour as you have rendered fat from browning all of that meat and start whisking. If you’re low on fat, you can supplement with whatever hard fat you have on hand – butter, schmaltz, lard, vegetable shortening, etc. A cup of fat and a cup of flour will do you right for one large pot of gumbo.
STEP 5 – Keep whisking. I recommend NPR podcasts to keep you company.
STEP 6 – Now would be a good time to crack open a beer. But don’t stop whisking. The key is not to let it burn.
STEP 7 – When you can’t stand to whisk any more, you’ve got your roux. If you taste it, it will not be yummy. Do not be scared.
STEP 8 – Add your chopped vegetables into the roux and stir frequently until they start to soften. Toss in some herbs. Fresh or dried thyme, oregano and basil are all welcome. Cayenne, paprika and other dried chiles can also be added. Then dump it all, plus some bay leaves into the really big pot with the simmering meat.
STEP 9 – Let is simmer and simmer and simmer. At some point, you’ll want to pull any large hunks of meat out and shred them. Maybe turn the burner off, lid the pot and take a nice bike ride. While you’re out, pick up some really cheap french bread to serve with the finished product. It’s traditional.
STEP 10 – Fire the burner back up and keep simmering. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, whatever hot sauces you have in the fridge, maybe a little more wine, some vinegar, etc. Make a batch of Sazeracs. Make another batch. Make some long-grain white rice. Add some okra, some chopped up oysters, some parsley and anything else your heart desires. Have some more Sazeracs. Just don’t get so drunk that you forget to take a picture of the finished product. Oops.