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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.