Monday, November 10, 2008

Days of fall: Pumpkin Stew














I can't take credit for this exceptional stew. I must bow down to the mighty Martha Stewart for this recipe. Ever since I read the recipe way back two years ago it has been one of my favorite hearty meals in a bowl to enjoy. Some great French bread and a small salad with this stew makes for a wonderful meal. I suggest making it if you want a hearty belly filling mouth pleasing fall stew. I love this stew so much that I am going to eat most of it myself. I do not follow her recipe completely because as I have mentioned previously I cook like a pirate, recipes are mere guidelines. You can find the original recipe (White bean and sausage stew in pumpkin bowls) on her website by using her search box. Her recipe makes enough for at least 12 people. I have amended her recipe to fit my more, how shall I say, erm, time challenged day. Whereas making the stew from the dried beans makes for a more delightful stew it won't be a dramatic difference if you choose to use canned beans instead. So take your liberties where you may and enjoy the stew.

Martha's Amended Pumpkin Stew

Ingredients:

1 cup dried navy beans or one 15 oz can, rinsed and drained
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme, plus 2 teaspoon leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 3-4 pound sugar pumpkin, washed and dried
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
4 small white potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 large leek, white and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced crosswise, rinsed well
1/4 pound white button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1/2 pound turkey sausage, casings discarded, coarsely chopped
1 cup frozen baby peas
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh sage

Cooking the beans:
Put beans into a medium bowl; cover with cold water by 2 inches. Refrigerate 8 hours (up to overnight). Drain beans and transfer to a large stockpot. Make bouquet garni: Place bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and the peppercorns on a square of cheesecloth; tie into a bundle with kitchen twine. Add stock, onion, and bouquet garni to pot with beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover; simmer until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid. Discard bouquet garni.

Roasting the pumpkin:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove stem and cut pumpkin in half, leaving seeds. Rub each side of the pumpkin with the oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place pumpkin right side up on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or foil. Bake 60 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool completely. Remove seeds and gently scoop out the flesh. Coarsely chop the pumpkin and set aside.

Making the Stew:
Heat the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add sausage. Cook, stirring, until sausage is browned, about 7 minutes. (Depending on how lean your sausage is you may need to add a teaspoon of oil to coat the pot) Add potatoes, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 12 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and leeks. Stir in flour, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add milk; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in beans, reserved cooking liquid, sage, thyme leaves, and 2 cups water. Bring to a simmer; cook until thick, about 30 minutes. Add chopped pumpkin and peas. Stir until warmed through.

If using canned beans begin with roasting the pumpkin. Then proceed as follows:
Heat the tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add sausage. Cook, stirring, until sausage is browned, about 7 minutes. Remove sausage from pan and set aside. Add potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have begun to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bouquet garni. Stir in mushrooms and leeks. Simmer until vegetables are near tender about 15 minutes. Stir in cooked sausage and flour, cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in beans, sage, thyme leaves, and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer; cook until thick, about 30 minutes. Add milk, chopped pumpkin and peas; simmer 5 minutes.

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