The title of this month’s Bon Appetit letter from the editor was “What Meat? This Salad will Steal the Show at your Next Barbecue“. I love Adam Rapoport’s introductions and always make a point to read them. He has a way of putting a sense of time and season to the issue in a way every magazines should, otherwise we would just buy cookbooks. We wouldn’t follow blogs, we’d just search the archives. For me, I love following in-the-moment posts and magazine issues because, while I may not make a whole ton of the recipes, I feel this great sense of being in the season, in the kitchen (or backyard) with the writer and cook.
I have some very exciting blog news today. If you visit because food is life, you will notice it has a very new look! It’s a work in progress but I have switched over to a self hosted site and now have full flexibility to change everything and anything I want about this website. Yay! And check out the recipe index page. It updates automatically and looks so organized and cute! Much more to come on the new features and look in the coming weeks, but take a look around, and flag any bugs. I’m sure there will be some.
Now on to this pasta because…GAH…so simple, so good, so quick. It’s another 5-ingredient recipe and it’s perfect for the early days of summer.
Let me talk to you about summer. I tried to rush it and brought home tomatoes from the store this week. They were watery, the flavor muted, and such a let down. Tomatoes still need time and so I will wait.
I haven’t said wow so many times over a dish in a while. It was so good, I immediately became excited for leftovers, after a single bite. The beans are creamy, enveloping chunks of slow cooked ham, and the greens a bitter and fresh addition. Also with just 15 minutes of prep time you have a meal to throw in the slow cooker for dinner. What’s not to love?
Soaking the beans overnight ensures you breakdown all the difficult to digest complex sugars. You don’t have to use anchovies if they freak you out BUT I promise you won’t taste them. They dissolve into the other flavors and give a unique salty savoriness to the dish. I used whole chilies because they started selling them in the produce section of my grocery store. I find that using whole chilies lends fruity, smoky notes from chilies apart from straight heat but use whatever is easily and readily available to you.
This is a fantastic way to use up leftover ham if you have any in your freezer still from the holidays. That was my inspiration for the dish. I wanted to do an Italian twist on the southern ham and beans soup and when I spotted this recipe in Bon Appetit I knew it was the perfect starting point. It also incorporates plenty of greens making it a perfect one pot meal. The ham could easily be omitted to make vegetarian, I’d just add additional parmesan at the end to make up for that missing salty, savory note.Ham, Greens and White Bean Stew in the Slow Cooker Serves 8 Adapted from Bon Appetit, February 2014 issue
- Olive Oil
- 4 anchovy fillets (optional)
- 3 chilies de arbol or crushed red pepper flakes to taste
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 ham hock, leftover ham bone, or 1 lb cooked ham, coursely chopped
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 parmesan rind (optional, but preferred and a great way to get rid of something you would throw away)
- 1 lb dried white beans (I used Great Northern beans)
- 4 cups water
- 1 bunch kale, torn into bite size pieces
- 4 cups arugula
- For serving: grated parmesan and crusty bread
Heat 2-3 glugs of olive oil over medium heat. Add the anchovies, if using, and chilies and cook 2-4 minutes, breaking up the anchovies with a wooden spoon until they dissolve into the oil. Add the garlic, onion, and celery and cook until onion and celery begins to soften 6-8 minutes.
In the crock pot layer ham, beans, rosemary, parmesan rind and sautéed vegetables. Pour water over top and cook 8+ hours on low or 6 hours on high. Stir kale into the crock pot for 20-30 additional minutes until tender. Top with arugula, grated parmesan and serve with crusty bread.
Special Equipment Needed: Slow Cooker
Before you starting jumping to conclusions about that first word in the title I need to tell you something. The pumpkin in this chili is subtle. It isn’t hit you in the face, fall is here, pumpkin-spice-latte-esqe pumpkin. Don’t get me wrong I love that sort of pumpkin but it had its time a couple months ago. This pumpkin is a supporting actor. It’s there to bring out fruity notes in the peppers and contrast with the smoky meatiness of the chili but you can’t taste PUMPKIN.
I rarely make the same recipe twice. Even things I love, I tweak a thing or two just to see if it can be improved. This recipe is a perfect example. I made a pumpkin, Texas style, all beef, no bean chili for my family’s chili competition 2 1/2 years ago (and it won!). Ever since I have been tweaking it ever so slightly. I subbed in sweet potatoes and butternut squash for the pumpkin, switched up the spices and the chilies. Until now I’ve stuck with the seared and then slow cooked chunks of beef chuck or brisket. Mostly because it’s such a crowd pleaser. But after seeing this recipe from The Corner Kitchen Blog last week I decided it was time to mix up my meat routine and add back in the beans. The result is a chili that feels like traditional chili BUT is different enough to get noticed.
- 6 dried chili peppers (see note in instructions below), stemmed and seeded. I use kitchen scissors.
- Just over 1 lb beef chuck, cubed into 1″ pieces
- salt and pepper
- Canola oil
- 1 onion
- 1 lb ground chuck
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 lb ground veal
- 6 garlic cloves
- small handful of cilantro, leaves separated from stems
- 2 canned chipotles in adobo sauce + ~1 tsp sauce
- 1 TBSP smoked paprika
- 1 TBSP cumin
- 2 TBSP brown sugar
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp all spice
- 1 beer
- 1 14 oz can tomatoes
- 2 14 oz cans pumpkin (use 100% pumpkin, with no spices or sugar added)
- 1 14 oz can black beans
- 1 14 oz can kidney beans
First a note on dried chilies. I am a strong believer in using whole dried chilies instead of chili powder. You may think that using chilies this way would be far too spicy but on the contrary using certain varieties of chilies can yield a much milder chili. For this recipe, I used three Ancho chilies and three Quajillo chilies. Ancho chilies are very mild and lend a sweet, smoky note while the Quajillo chilies are only mildly hot and also help lend sweet, earthy flavors. Most of the heat in the final recipe comes from the chipotles another one of my favorite flavor boosters.
Preheat oven to 300 deg F. Soak dried peppers in 2-3 cups beef stock or water. Set aside
Toss cubed beef chuck with salt and pepper. Heat ~2 TBSP canola oil in a dutch oven or large pot (I used my 5 quart dutch oven) over medium high heat. Sear beef on all sides quickly only 1-2 minutes. Move beef to a plate. Lower heat to medium and add an additional ~2 TBSP oil to the pot. Add the onion for 3-4 minutes and then add the ground meat. Stir the meat and cook until browned.
While the meat is browning, in a food processor, chop the chilies, 6 garlic cloves, cilantro stems, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and chipotles. Add food processor mixture to the pot and incorporate into the meat. Cook 2-3 minutes until spices and garlic become fragrant.
Add beer, tomatoes, pumpkin and beans to the chili. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Move pot to the oven and cook 3-4 hours until the beef cubes are tender and the sauce is creamy and tomato taste has cooked off. Serve with cheese, green onion, cilantro (oops I forgot, not pictured!) and other favorite chili toppings.