Monday, October 31, 2011

White Bean and Ham Stew

I recently subscribed to Food & Wine Magazine and I am very much enjoying the subscription.  Instead of finding a magazine full of "fancy pants" recipes and expensive wines I have discovered a wealth of information, new foods to cook and great grapes to pair with them.

When September's issue arrived I had just found out I was to have surgery in October and this recipe jumped out at me.  I knew I could make it in advance, freeze it, then pull it out for lunches or dinners during my recovery.

I made a few changes for the sake of simplicity:  I left out the potatoes (I usually do this when bread is also involved); I left out the celery (I didn't want to buy a bunch of celery to only use one stalk); I left out the parsnip and cabbage (I wasn't sure how they would freeze); and I used navy beans (I prefer the texture to cannellini beans).  To make a deeper flavor, I added a few stalks of rosemary to step 2, then removed it before adding the ham back in.

All in all a fabulous stew, easy to make, wonderful to taste and makes a great presentation for company.  This just might be a repeater!

White Bean and Ham Stew (Adapted from Jacques Pepin for Food & Wine)

    • 4 meaty smoked ham hocks (about 3 1/2 pounds)
    • 1/2 pound dried cannellini or borlotti beans (1 1/4 cups), picked over and rinsed
    • 3 quarts water
    • 2 medium red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 1 large celery rib, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1 large parsnip, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1/2 pound Savoy cabbage, cut into 2-inch pieces
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • Eight 1/4-inch-thick slices of peasant bread, lightly toasted
    • 2 cups shredded Gruyère or Comté cheese
  1. In a large pot, combine the smoked ham hocks with the cannellini beans and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Add the potatoes, leek, celery, carrot, parsnip, cabbage and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cover the stew and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
  2. Transfer the ham hocks to a plate. Simmer the stew uncovered over moderate heat until thickened and the beans and vegetables are very tender, about 45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, discard the skin and bones from the hocks and cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Add the meat to the stew as it simmers. Season the stew with pepper.
  4. Preheat the broiler. Ladle the hot stew into 8 heatproof soup bowls and place the bowls on a large cookie sheet. Cover each bowl with a toast and spread the cheese on top. Broil 4 inches from the heat, rotating the bowls as necessary, until the cheese is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Serve right away.

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