December Kosher Connection LinkUp: Fagiuoli all’Uccelletto with Beef and Mushrooms

This month’s linkup topic is Comfort Food. Perfect for this time of year, I’d say, with the cold and wind. It’s the time of year one fires up the stove top and makes dish after dish that simmer for hours to make a meal that warm the home and satisfy both body and soul.

This dish is a compilation of everything I love: it has wine, fresh herbs and garlic, white beans that melt in your mouth and meat so tender you can cut it with a spoon. Fresh tomato sauce reminds me of summer, and the mushrooms add a bit of taste and texture.

The actual preparation of this dish is not difficult at all, but to make all the components from scratch, as I do, you will want to have some time on your hands.  Let me give you the recipe, and then I will include links to recipes on my blog how to prepare the individual ingredients like the stock and tomato sauce.

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This recipe makes quite a lot – easily divide in half if you are serving for yourself or a few people. It is quite delicious fresh, but as with a lot of stews and slow cooked meals the leftovers are even better the next day!

You will need:

1 lb dried white beans

2 lbs stew beef

2 quarts tomato sauce

3 quarts stock or water

1 1/2 lb sliced button mushrooms

1 large handful fresh parsley finely minced (leaves only, save stems for stock)

7 fresh sage leaves finely minced  (leaves only, save stems for stock)

14 fresh tarragon leaves finely minced (leaves only save stems for stock)

5 fresh garlic cloves, finely minced

Generous two finger pinch dried orange peel

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 C dry red wine

Olive oil

1) Take 1 lb of dried white beans and soak in 2 quarts cold water or stock with a generous splash of wine added. Soak for 12 hours. Leaves beans sit as you prepare the rest of the recipe

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2) Take 2 lbs stew beef (preferably from the shoulder or chuck) and pat dry. Add a touch of salt and pepper to all pieces. Get a saute pan very hot, add a bit of olive oil. Sear all pieces on both sides for about 3-5 minutes, or until you develop a good browned layer. Remove beef from pan, set aside.  Do not clean saute pan – you will need that for the mushrooms.

3) Drain beans, and add 1 quart stock, 2 quarts tomato sauce, and the stew beef. Bring just to the boil, then lower to a simmer. Stir occasionally, leave simmer for a minimum of 3 hours. It is done when you can smash a bean easily between two fingers, and the meat is soft and tender.

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4) With the saute pan from the seared meat, add a tiny bit of olive oil and cook the garlic first, til it starts to brown. Add your mushrooms, herbs, and dried orange peel and cook til there is practically no liquid left – about 30 mins on medium heat. To help in the reduction, remove excess liquid at times and add to the beans and meat mixture. When the mushrooms have shrunk to half their original size, and there is only a tiny bit of liquid in the pan, raise heat to high and add your wine. Reduce til there is barely any liquid, and the edges of the mushrooms start to brown and crisp up.

5) When beans and meat are finished, garnish with a generous spoonful of the mushrooms and enjoy!

Recipe for Vegetable Stock (photo step-by-step as well as recipe) http://foodwordsphotos.com/the-basic-kitchen-vegetable-stock/

Recipe for Tomato Sauce (http://foodwordsphotos.com/fagiuoli-alluccelletto-with-sausage/

 

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A Simple Sunday Supper: Fagiuoli all’Uccelletto with Sausage

The Inspiration: To improve on a recipe I made previously.

I made the following for Ali and Matan’s Virtual Sheva Brachot – http://foodwordsphotos.com/kosher-connection-sheva-brachot/  The recipe had not been bad, but there were elements that I was not completely happy with.

The Innovation: To recreate Fagiuoli all’Uccelletto (one of my favorite dishes!) using more ingredients that I made from scratch.

I realized that I could easily improve on this recipe by using homemade and all natural ingredients for the key components for this dish. Instead of using canned beans and tomato sauce, I used homemade sauce and raw beans that I soaked. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the way I originally made the recipe for Ali and Matan – this is more a challenge for myself. I have been working to make as much from scratch as possible, and to become more aware of using a wider variety of foods that are perhaps not as fancy or refined, but that still make a healthy and delicious meal.

My Interpretation: Fagiuoli all’Uccelletto with Sausage

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I didn’t make the sausage from scratch – that is the only part of this dish that I bought pre-made. The tomato sauce is homemade (excepting 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes per 5 lbs of tomatoes) and I pre-soaked the beans, then simmered in the sauce for several hours. The result? A delicious dinner that the entire family enjoyed. The beans were soft and had a creamy texture, the sauce was rich, full of flavor and a little chunky, and the sausage gave the dish a heartiness that was filling but not overwhelming.

Recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce

8 lg cloves garlic chopped

6 stalks celery rough chopped

1 lg Spanish onion rough chopped

6 fresh sage leaves rough minced

1 small handful fresh tarragon leaves rough minced

8 fresh basil leaves rough minced

Olive oil for sauteing

5 lb ripe Roma tomatoes (look for ones that are bright red and only the slightest bit soft or not soft at all) cut into quarters

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes (look for a can that says Imported from Italy)

2 packages crimini mushrooms cut into halves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/4 of 750ml bottle of dry red wine ( I prefer Burgundy)

 

Heat olive oil in the bottom of a 10Qt or larger stock pot. Add garlic and onion, cook on high heat til they just start to color. Lower heat, then add celery, fresh herbs and mushrooms with the red wine, cover with lid and leave sweat for at least 30 mins, or until vegetables look more tender. Add fresh and diced tomatoes, season with salt and pepper ( use a little now, adjust later as needed) and let cook covered at a low simmer for at least 1 and a half hours. The vegetables should be tender, and there should be a significant amount of liquid in the pot. At this point, take a immersion or hand blender and blend everything into the pot together very well, til mixture is thick and mainly smooth. Cook a bit longer, about 15 mins, then turn off heat and allow to cool completely before storing away. This will make a large quantity of sauce – I filled 4 2lb deli containers.

Pre-soak a 2lb bag of Great Northern or cannellini beans in at least a 6Qt stock pot for a minimum of 3 hours. Drain water, then refill pot half way with water or vegetable stock, and 2- 2lb deli containers of tomato sauce. Cook beans at a simmer for at least 3 hours, or until beans are tender but not falling apart. Check every hour or so.

Take a package of pre-made Italian sausage (or any sweet sausage, about a 1 lb worth) and cut into coins. Brown on both sides, and cook through but take care not to overcook. Add to beans and leave mixture sit on low for about 10 mins to allow flavors to blend.  Add salt and if desired. Serve hot or at room temperature.