It's been a while since I last posted on here. Come to think of it, its been a while since I posted on East West Pastry, too. Whoops. A lot happened that made me really not want to blog, although I never stopped cooking, tweeting, or being weird, as I'm sure many of you have noticed. Two big things that happened: I got laid off at my only-okay job, and managed to snag a pretty damn good one where I get to design stuff all day. Awesome! Unfortunately it doesn't leave me a lot of time for blog posting, but nothing new there, I suppose.
This Saturday I was attempting to simultaneously make something for a dinner party and clean out my freezer/pantry at the same time, my goal to use as much frozen meat and other stuff lying around as I could manage in one go. I decided on a sort of cassoulet, using bacon, andouille sausage and english short rib on the bone. The reason I went cassoulet and not just a regular stew was that I had a pound of dried beans and as of yet had not had the opportunity to use them.
|Some random thoughts about beans.|
I was going to do a dedicated illustration, but then I got distracted...
I'd grown up on canned beans and strange as it sounds, never had the opportunity to actually make something bean-y from the dried product.
Dried beans are far more time intensive than simply opening a can, but the benefits are great - you get direct control over the taste of the bean and the level of sodium. Also, it's cheap. Unless you get Rancho Gordo beans- but then you pay for the novelty of heirloom, right?
Who can say whether its because I used fancy beans or because I simply mastered how to cook them properly, but either way, this bean and meat stew is great - like a cross between a meaty beef stew and the best chili you've ever had.
Good enough that I had to come back after several months and post, just so that I could share the recipe. Enjoy!
Bacon, Sausage and Shortrib Cassoulet with Rancho Gordo Yellow-Eye Beans
- Rancho gordo yellow-eye beans, 16oz – soaked for at least an hour, more preferable.
- One onion, sliced in half and each half skewered with a clove
- Three cloves garlic
- Dried thyme, dried parsley, ½ tsp each, one bay leaf
- Water to cover
- 2 andouille sausages
- 5 portions of English short rib on the bone (bonus if butcher can separate meat from bone and chunk the meat for you)
- 4 slices of bacon, cut into lardons
- 1 green bell pepper, diced fine
- 1 onion, diced fine
- 2 small carrots, diced fine
- 1 stalk celery, diced fine
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- Creole seasoning (paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt, salt, pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper) – to taste
- Splash of red wine
- 1 large can of diced tomatoes, in juice
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- Combine the bean stuff in a pot and bring to a boil – lower to a simmer once there and let simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, or until the beans are just about done. ‘about done’ is when they are edible, still a little mealy.
- While the beans are boiling, prepare the meat. Prep your short-ribs by sprinkling salt and pepper on both sides (and dredge in flour if you desire). Add grape-seed oil to a large Dutch oven and bring to high heat. Working in batches, brown the short rib and bones, making sure to get a good sear on both sides. Be sure not to crowd the pot. Remove to a plate and reserve for later. Prick the sausages with a fork and brown on all sides, then cut into fourths and reserve.
- Add the bacon lardons to the pot and fry the bacon, stirring constantly so nothing burns. Once the bacon is well along, turn down the heat to medium and add the flavor-builders and spices, along with some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and cooked down.
- Add a splash of red wine when it starts to look dry, scraping and stirring up everything that’s stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- When the mixture begins to boil, add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to simmer and cook for about 10 minutes or until the mix is reduced slightly.
- Pre-heat your oven to 300 degrees.
- When the beans are done, strain the beans over a bowl to retain the bean broth, then put the beans in a bowl and remove the onion, bay leaf, and little bits of bean skin that are easy to remove. Save the bean broth.
- Stir the beans into your tomato mixture. Add the meat back into the pot, pushing everything down into the bean and sauce so that all the meat is more or less covered. Add enough of the bean broth to cover all.
- Bake, covered, in a 300 degree oven for about 3 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.