"Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, well, so is the ballet." - Julia Child

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Whole-9-Yard Bean Stew

Ok, Easter is over, and you've got a big hunk of ham you don't know what to do with. Here's how, in two parts:

1. Perform Surgery on the Ham:
Take a bread knife or a paring knife, and slice as much meat off the bones as possible. BE CAREFUL!!! Your hands will get also dirty and sticky, and yes, this is a lot of work. If you don't think you're skilled enough to wield a knife, find/kidnap a friend who can, and don't forget to reward him/her with food. The ham you can save is enough for sandwiches, kabobs, omlettes, etc..

2. What to do with the bone:
  • Put the bone in a large stock pot (i.e. 5 quart and larger), and fill the pot with enough water to fully immerse the bone.
  • Bring to a boil, and let boil for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium or medium low, cover, and let simmer for 2-3 hours.
  • Take the bone out, discard it, and save the stock for later. This the base of the stew that I will describe below.
  • As an aside, this thing has got to be the weirdest yet most useful invention from Asia. There are other brands, and I have a little one made in China. It makes soup and stocks in a fraction of the time and energy it normally requires. If you make a lot of soups and stews, or even pot roast, it's worth every penny in the long run.

3. The Whole-9-Yard Bean Stew:

  • 3 cups of lentils and beans. Soak in water overnight before you decide to make the stew.
  • 4-5 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 4 Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup cous cous
  • 1 cup shredded ham scraps
  • 2 tsp each: rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage
  • 1 tsp each: mustard seed, celery seed
  • 1-2 heaping tbsp of brown sugar
  1. In a large stock pot, bring stock to a hard boil. Boil lentils, beans, and rice in the stock for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and let it remain on a slow boil for 1 hour.
  2. Put in potatoes, celery, onion, carrots, ham scraps, and all the spices. Bring to a hard boil, let boil for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the whole thing sit in a slow boil for another 1 hour. Keep stirring. Make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  3. Turn off the stove, stir in cous cous, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in brown sugar, and add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Serve with some garnish of fresh parsley, and you can charge someone $6 for one bowl of this stew. Just kidding.

Ok, so that was a lot of work, but how often do you get a ham bone to work with?

Oh yes, you can get beans and lentil mixes at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. If you don't want to go through the trouble with the ham bone, chicken broth will do.


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