I love making bean stews. They are just a pot of beans with a little more oomph. Endlessly versatile and healthy, they are a great way to stretch your dollar at the grocery store. You can plan around making a favorite version or you can toss one together with whatever you have in the pantry or when you want to “clean out” the fridge.
In this version, I used smoked venison hot links that I made last November from a mule deer. The links were par-cooked from hot smoking, so I cut thick slices and added them to the pot once everything was simmering together. The stew has lots of chili powders and red bell peppers to make a great tasting dish.
You can, and should, take this recipe and totally adapt it to your taste and whatever you have on hand: summer sausage and cabbage, spicy italian sausage and kale and more. Seriously, there’s an endless amount of directions you can take this recipe.
Using canned beans is also a great way to make this recipe quick and easy. You can use a couple cans of beans instead of using dry ones.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 2-6 hours
8 ounces Northern white beans (or 2 cans 0f cooked beans, drained)
8 ounces (½ pound) spicy venison sausage, either in casings or free form.
3 red bell peppers
1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 splash olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 glass white wine
1 quart chicken or turkey stock
Salt, to taste
If you’re using canned beans, disregard the directions about beans. Make the stew with the rest of the ingredients, add the beans at the very end, and cook until they are heated through.
For dried beans, place the beans in a non-reactive container the day before, and cover with at least three inches of water. Soak them overnight. If you’re cooking the beans the same day, bring them to a boil and let them hot soak for an hour.
When you’re ready to start making the stew, start by charring the red peppers either on the grill or under the broiler until about half of the skin has gone black and the peppers have started to deflate a little. Place the peppers in a covered container or bowl covered with plastic wrap, and let them steam for about 10 minutes. Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, peel and seed them. Don’t worry too much about the seeds or a piece of skin here and there. Dice the peppers into hearty ¼ inch chunks and reserve for later.
While the peppers are charring, chop the onion into medium dice, and sweat it over medium heat with some olive oil and a pinch of salt in a large pot.
If you are using free-form, loose meat, sausage, start by browning the sausage with the olive oil until the sausage has released its fat. Then add the onions and garlic.
Once the onion and garlic are translucent, add the spices to the pot and stir everything for about 30 seconds over medium to medium low heat until you can smell that the spices are toasted. Watch the heat during this step and don’t walk away. Once the room smells like chilies and paprika, you know they’re toasted enough, but go too far, and you’ll burn them in another thirty seconds.
Now add the wine, scrape up anything that is stuck to the bottom; reduce the wine by half over medium high heat. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and then back the heat off to low. Check the seasoning and add more salt if you think the stew needs it.
If you’re using cased-sausages, add them now and poach them for about ten minutes. Once the sausages are poached, remove them and allow to cool slightly, then slice them into thick slices and add the sausage back into the pot.
Simmer the stew for about two hours, add the reserved red bell peppers, and start to check the beans for doneness. The beans should take about 3-5 hours, depending on how soft you want them. Check the beans every 20-30 minutes once you add the peppers, pull them from the heat when you like the texture of the beans. Adjust your seasoning along the way.
Once you are happy with the texture of the beans the stew is ready to serve. You can serve the stew alone with a dash of hot sauce or alongside some warm bread or cornbread. The stew will be even better when reheated, and it will keep well for five to seven days in the fridge.