Mary and I have only known each other less than three years and been married slightly more than two. So of course, we’re both still learning about the foods and dishes each of us grew up with. While my family was mostly German farmers, Mary grew up in the midst of a lot of Polish tradition. To me, the recipes and dishes she has in her cultural history are quite unique. While I enjoy making dishes for her that I grew up with, like the Eggs In A Frame recipe I blogged a few posts back, learning her family’s dishes is, to me, a serious treat.
This particular dish, a simple Bean Stew, is something that seems downright amazing to me. It’s one of those dishes that’s a serious comfort food. And on days like today when the weather is frigidly cold with snow and ice that’s in-your-face, and the sound of a wind that makes you shiver even when you’re indoors, it’s a very soothing, comforting and warming dish that’s easy to eat multiple servings of.
It’s also extremely flexible. Don’t like a certain ingredient or like one of them a bit more than others? Experiment with some of the suggestions in the notes following the recipe, or add something that’s your own idea. Great for fall or winter meals with a nice big steaming mug of rich hot cocoa, this bean stew is a comforting warm-up.
Make some for today for when you come back inside. You might even drop off to sleep afterward. It’s that soothing.
Mary’s Bean Stew
1 lb bulk raw mild pork sausage
1 lb pkg smoked sausage with casing
1 28 oz can baked beans
2 14.5 oz cans cut green beans
1 medium onion
1/3 cup brown sugar
Extra virgin olive oil
1 12″ skillet
1 6 qt pot with lid
Deep Prep (the day before you need it)
Slowly brown the pork sausage in the skillet till it’s barely done, then let it drain on some folded paper towel. Chop the onion, and cut the smoked sausage into slices 1/4″ thick. Heat the pot over medium heat. When the pot is hot, add a couple tablespoons olive oil and, tilting the pot, spread the oil around. When the oil is hot, dump the sliced smoked sausage and chopped onion into it, spreading them evenly. Stir the sausage and onions occasionally. When the onions are translucent, dump the sausage and onions into the colander so the oils will drain. When most of the oil is gone, dump the sausage and onion, and the browned pork sausage, into the pot. Add the baked beans, stir it all up, and set the burner for medium heat. Drain the cut green beans and add them to the pot, along with the brown sugar. Mix it all together, lower the heat, and let it all simmer at least 30 minutes. After cooling, the stew can be refrigerated right in the covered pot, preferably overnight.
Slowly reheat the stew on medium heat, stirring occasionally. This is best served in a good-sized bowl with some warm corn biscuits and steaming hot cocoa.
- The package sizes in the list of ingredients will vary depending on what you buy. For example, the Koegel 2-stick package of smoked sausage may average 2 lbs, but check the Nutrition Info section of the package. Serving size is listed as 2 oz, but servings per package says “varies”. Just use the whole thing, even though it might be twice what this recipe calls for. The stew will turn out great anyhow.
- Try Polish sausage, summer sausage and other types in place of the smoked sausage. And play around with different baked beans, like those with bacon and other interesting ingredients. And replacing the cut green beans with maybe some French style green beans, or garbanzos, or kidney or lima beans … well, there has to be at least a few different possibilities of flavor combinations you can try. This is something simple enough to be a lot of fun to experiment with.