the appetizer:

Real Cajun: Rustic Home Cooking from Donald Link's Louisiana by Donald Link, includes recipes like My Boudin; German Festival Ham and White Bean Stew; and Aunt Cynthia's Tomato and Bacon Pie (aka Cajun Pizza).

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German Festival Ham
and White Bean Stew

Serves 10 to 12

German Festival Ham and White Bean Stew

 

After I sampled this rich, hearty combination at the Robert's Cove Germanfest (where it was ladled into Styrofoam bowls), it became a family favorite. There, the beans were creamy, super-thick (more like a side dish than something you'd serve in a soup bowl), and laced with an incredible smoked ham flavor. Whole-grain mustard and collards give the classic ham-and-bean combination more flavor (and a distinctive German-Southern twist). I've made this version more stewlike because I love the smoky broth that it creates.

For a creamier texture, puree a portion of the finished stew. If you don't have a blender, you can smash some of the beans the old-fashioned way by pressing them against the side of the pot with your cooking spoon. Some beans are good to leave whole and some, like black-eyed peas, are better mashed up a little. White beans are somewhere in the middle.

This recipe makes a large pot of stew, so you can invite people over or have delicious leftovers.

As with all stews, it will taste even better the next day.

Place the beans in a large pot with enough water to cover them by 4 inches. Soak the beans overnight.

Heat the butter or bacon fat in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.

Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, jalapeno, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.

Add the ham, mustard, and rosemary, cook for 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the pot along with the chicken broth.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook the stew at a simmer for 1 hour.

Add the greens and cook for 30 minutes more. Turn off heat and let sit for 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves.

At this point you can serve the soup as is, or, to make a creamier soup with a thicker body, puree 2 cups of the stew in a blender and return to the pot. (You can also place an immersion blender in the pot and pulse for a few seconds to accomplish the same thing.) Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper as desired, Serve this stew with plenty of good, crusty bread or cornbread, torn and thrown right into the bowl, or over hot steamed rice.

 

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This page created June 2010