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Me thinks it’s the last call for a hearty, soulful, and comforting like a hug of your loved one stew. I’m wary of saying anything out loud not to jinx it, but it looks like the sun is back in LA after a long and cold (as in jackets, woolen hats and scarves COLD) winter. I know this does not compare to what people back east have experienced, but here in Los Angeles we have high weather expectations. And we’re kind of pussies like that. One proper Southern California winter with its 70°F and up will do that to you.
Evenings, however, are still rather nippy and thus call for a healthy comfort food.
Here’s a list of reasons why you should try my Farty Party Bean Stew:
1. It’s healthy, for it is full of fiber and protein.
2. It’s made in minutes, like twenty at the most (if you’re using canned beans…)
3. It’s on the leaner side, despite the company of pancetta.
4. It’s as filling as a sheet of big bubble wrap inside a fedex package, and just as flatulent.
Ok, let me pause here for a moment. We’re talking beans so don’t pretend you’re surprised to hear about their gassy quality. The good thing is that after a reasonable portion of this sinfully satisfying dish you’ll suffer the consequences over an afternoon, and all you’re left with are sweet memories of one flavorful meal. Whereas, if you “indulge” in a bucket of fried wings, or a dozen of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, or even Fettucini Alfredo from Olive Garden, not only you’re building a muffin top around your waste, but also you’re loading your body with crazy amounts of saturated fat, preservatives, and other toxic chemicals no one can even pronounce.
5. It’s taste is divine!
I’ll give you an approximate recipe for the above mentioned culinary gift of gods as you know me: what do I know about measurements?
- Beans, various varieties: cannellini, kindey, pinto, wide white beans, what have you. A handful of each kind. If possible, go for dry beans and soak them overnight, then cook in unsalted water till tender. Drain. If not available, use canned ones and rinse them thoroughly under a stream of cold water to remove all that excess sodium.
- Pancetta, three 0.5″ thick slices of it will do. The fresh one from your butcher is the best. This way you’ll get to cut it in chunky chunks and then incorporate those ruby pork nuggets into your stew.
- Large onion, diced.
- Chicken or beef stew, about 1 cup. Or more, if you’re making a large batch of the stew.
- Tomato sauce, 14 oz can or an equivalent from a jar (always better than a can.)
- Tomato paste, 2-3 tbsp.
- Maple syrop (Grade B is the one you want!), 2-3 tbsp.
- Worcestershire Sauce, 0.5-1 tbsp (OPTIONAL).
- Fresh herbs: oregano, thyme, marjoram, all chopped, 2-3 tbsp total.
- Olive oil, 1 tbsp.
- Salt, pepper, paprika, chili pepper, all to taste.
- Fresh parsley, roughly chopped, to be added in the end.
I use a large cast iron pot as it carries and distributes heat like no other. Drizzle oil into the hot machine, add chunks of pancetta and let it render. Next, drop in the onion, a touch of salt, all your herbs, stir and let it soften over a low to medium heat.
After that it doesn’t get any simpler. Toss all your soft beans into the pot along with the rest of the ingredients (aside from the parsley), mix well, bring to a simmer and let them cook for 10 minutes, with a lid on and over low heat. Taste, season to your liking, let it simmer another 5 minutes, and kill the fire. Add a bunch of chopped parsley and serve.
I think the stew is phenomenal on its own, but you may want a slice of some good, rustic bread to go with it. Your instincts are correct. That piece of bread will make the meal complete and protect you from going for seconds. And thirds. Yes, I did it, mea culpa. I suffered the consequences, too, I must admit. Still, I think it was worth every bite!
Nonetheless, enjoy my Farty Party Bean Stew and may it be our mutual farewell to winter.