Dinner Experiment: Sausage, White Bean, and Kale Stew, Jay-Style

lacinato kale/courtesy of Flickr user sweetbeetandgreenbean under a Creative Commons license

When I lived alone, I used to eat a lot of dinners that involved a vegetable and not much else. They were quick and healthy, but not exactly the kind of food you’d serve to someone else, especially if kale was involved–because as my brother’s girlfriend once pointed out after going to someone’s house for dinner and being served some thrown-together pasta dish featuring massive amounts of kale, you don’t serve weird dishes involving kale to company.

Except maybe when company is your boyfriend, who lives with you and therefore isn’t exactly company, and you can doctor up the kale dish you’ve been enjoying for years on your own enough to call it a bona fide meal. That’s what I did last night with the Kale and White Bean Thing I’d been eating for the past few winters. Its origins date back to the Winter of Kale in 2008-2009, and I hadn’t done much tweaking since. Jay is a “if it doesn’t have meat, it’s not a meal” kinda guy, and although I’ve had some success introducing vegetarian entrees, even I knew a can of white beans simmered with kale and a few seasonings wasn’t going to cut it.

Using my original recipe and this disappointing Bon Appetit recipe from a few years ago as my inspiration, I turned the dish into a stew with sausages, kale, and white beans as the main ingredients. Our local butcher, Lowell Provision, makes the world’s best sausages, so I decided the stew would be Italian-ish and bought a half-pound each of the hot Italian and sweet Italian sausages (and at less than three dollars a pound, they are also a steal). I thought the Bon Appetit stew was too thin–it was really a soup–so I cut down the broth. Jay likes onions, so I threw in two onions, and at his suggestion, mushrooms. With some white wine and vinegar to round out the flavors, it was a nice earthy winter stew.

In this dish and most others involving kale, I have a strong preference for lacinato kale, a darker green variety with longer leaves that are sort of bumpy rather than feathery, if that makes sense (see the above photo). It has a richer flavor and is less bitter than regular kale. Whole Foods stocks lacinato kale, but I haven’t been able to find it elsewhere with any regularity. Since our nearest Whole Foods is about 20 minutes away in Andover, we made a special trip there on Saturday morning for the kale and ended up also buying a small stockpile of fancy yogurts and two kinds of candy. I call it our compensation to ourselves for braving the parking lot at that place, especially on a Saturday in December.

Sausage, White Bean, and Kale Stew, Jay-Style

1 lb. sausage, chopped into 1-inch pieces or removed from casing (I used half hot Italian and half sweet Italian; you could vary the mixture)

2 small onions, diced

approx. 1/4 cup minced garlic

8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (I used a package of sliced baby bellas, and I think that’s how big it was, but I’m not sure)

1 bay leaf

2 15.5-oz. cans white (cannelini) beans

1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and torn or chopped into manageable pieces with center ribs removed

2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup (or more) white wine

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

approx. 1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt & pepper

approx. 2 tablespoons olive oil

grated parmesan cheese, to taste

Heat approximately two tablespoons olive oil in a Dutch oven or other deep, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown, breaking up as necessary if you removed it from the casing.

Add the garlic and onion and cook until the vegetables soften a bit, 3-5 minutes.

Add the mushroom and bay leaf and cook until the mushrooms soften and give off their liquid, about another five minutes. Allow the liquid to reduce a bit and add the kale. Cook until the leaves turn bright green and soften a bit, a minute or two.

Add the beans with their liquid followed by the stock, wine, and vinegar. Stir in salt and pepper to your liking and add thyme.

Lower the heat and simmer for 35-45 minutes or until thickened to your liking.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese (Jay: “What’s wrong with the stuff in the green canister?” me: “Plenty.”) and bread for dipping.

(I always cook for leftovers, but I think this would serve four or five if you didn’t want leftovers. It’s pretty filling, so we didn’t need seconds.)

4 Responses to “Dinner Experiment: Sausage, White Bean, and Kale Stew, Jay-Style”
  1. Jeff'y says:

    If you have an immersion blender, you could use that at the end. You a) won’t have to worry about the stew not being thick enough, and b) will be able to”hide” the kale a bit. Also, cannelini beans and rosemary are good friends.

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