Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Rustic Bean Stew with Bacon and Caramelized Onions

This is the first main dish recipe I tried from The Improvistional Cook book. I absolutely LOVED it. Served with crusty toasted french bread, a spinach salad and homemade canned peaches, our table was the picture of health and perfection! Definitely a new fave.

You can use canned beans for this, but I think making them from scratch adds a little something, i mean other than hours of cookin time :) If you're like me and never remember to soak them overnight before cooking, here's a cheat: rinse beans, cover with cool water in saucepan, bring to a boil and then lower heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Then turn off heat and cover, let soak for an hour. Rinse several times and cover with water again, simmer for 1 1/2 to 3 hours (add onion and bay leaf during this part).

4 oz. thick-sliced bacon
1 pound yellow onions, sliced or diced
4 cups cooked, drained darkish beans (such as red beans, Roman, black-eyed peas, etc.)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 c. low sodium cicken broth
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
freshly ground pepper

Cook bacon until crisp, remove bacon from pan, pour off all but about 1 tbs. fat.

Caramelize onions by cooking in bacon fat unil wilted and have released juices, about 5 minutes.
add about 1/2 tsp. salt and saute until onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes longer.

Add beans to pan along with crumbled bacon, bay leaves, broth, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a smmer, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has reduced considerably and it looks like a stew, about 20 mintes. Adjust seasonsing, pepper generously. I mashed up about half of the beans at the end to make it more like a stew.
Enjoy gourmet eating!

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