A natural pairing of pork sausage and slow-cooked beans yields a tasty, spicy tomato broth cut with a tangy vinegar at the finish that makes a filling single-bowl meal.
Not to be confused with its European counterpart, Italian sausage in the United States is a seasoned ground pork sausage generally sold under three varieties: mild, sweet (with added basil) and hot (with red pepper flakes). These are sold uncured and uncooked, and are great for summertime grilling or simply cooking at home as an entrée or an ingredient. Although this recipe calls for the hot sausage, the other types can be substituted according to personal taste.
Likewise, the pairing is so natural that any number of bean varietals can be substituted here to suit anyone’s preference. A small white bean is desired, and the specified great northern beans provide a creamy but firm consistency and a mild flavor that picks up the spices very well. No need for pre-soaking — just a simple rinse and sort is good enough to cook dried beans with a couple of hours under a simmer.
Dice the mirepoix into sizes roughly as small as the bean for a uniform consistency to the stew that showcases the relatively large slices of sausage. The tomato paste ensures that the added water becomes a semi-thickened, tomato-flavored base that brings together all the other elements without dominating.
Round out the stew to taste with a quality balsamic vinegar for just enough acidic tang to sharpen the other flavors.
Sausage and White Bean Stew
½ lb Italian sausage (hot)
½ lb great northern beans (dried)
1 stalk celery
½ yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 T tomato paste
½ t thyme
½ t ground cumin
½ t rosemary
1 bay leaf
6 c water
1 t balsamic vinegar
1 Brown the sausage in a pan until just cooked through, about 5-7 min. Remove and set aside.
2 Dice the carrot, celery and onion, and mince the garlic. Sauté the vegetables in a clean pot with a little oil until softened, about 5 min. Stir in the tomato paste and spices.
3 Deglaze the pot with a little water, then add the rest along with the beans. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 2-3 hrs or until the beans are tender.
4 Slice the sausage into ½-in rounds. Return to the pot and simmer until warmed through, about 10 min.
5 Finish with the vinegar, and season to taste.