Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sausage & Cannelini Beans in the Crock Pot

It's not all about desserts in the BettyCupcakes kitchen- we eat dinner, too!

Yesterday, during the blizzard that wasn't (4 inches does not a blizzard make), I pulled out my trusty Crock Pot to set it and forget it. Remember those RonCo commercials?? Good times.

For this recipe, you'll need the following ingredients:

~1 lb dried cannelini beans
4 links sausage (I used Sweet Basil Pesto Smoked Chicken & Turkey Sausage from Trader Joe's), sliced into 1-inch rounds
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp pepper flakes
Several grinds of black pepper
2 dry bay leaves
4 cups chicken stock

To start, you'll want to soak the beans. If you good at planning ahead, you could put the beans in a large saute pan, cover with an inch or 2 of cold water, cover with a lid, and put in the fridge overnight. Drain the beans and proceed with recipe.

However, if you're like me, you need a quick soak method.

Quick soak is a bit of a misnomer- it still takes 2 hours. BUT it's a fast(er) way to get those beans ready for their slow cooking. This method is from Lynn Rosetto Kasper (of The Splendid Table fame).

Place beans in a large saute pan that has a tightly fitting lid. Pour boiling water over the beans so that they are covered by an inch or two of water. Place lid on securely and leave on counter for two hours. Drain beans and proceed with recipe.

In a 6 quart slow cooker, put the drained beans, onion, sausage, garlic, basil, pepper flakes, and black pepper.

Pour in the chicken broth, and stir so that all ingredients are submerged in liquid. Place top on securely and set the heat.

You'll need to cook it for 11-12 hours on low or 5-6 hours on high. Since the sausage is already fully cooked, you're just looking for the beans to be tender and the flavors to blend.

The best thing about this recipe is that it is SO adaptable. Substitute any kind of bean or sausage and use the same amount of liquid. You could even use canned beans- just shorten the cooking time so they don't turn to mush.

I serve this over sauteed cabbage. Add one bag of shredded cabbage to a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp of salt and a couple grinds of pepper. Cook until the cabbage is wilted and has a bit of color (10-15 minutes) tossing occasionally.

This hit the spot after a LONG day of waiting for snow- the husband and 1 each had two servings!

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