Thursday, November 30, 2006

Peasant Food

Perhaps that's not the best appellation for this kind of dish, but I always think of stew-like concoctions as country fare - not served at the squire's place but rather standard fare for his minions. We usually refer to this type of dish as comfort food. There is a subtle elegance to a fine cassoulet, the final dish far surpasses the sum of its parts.

Recently, I watched an episode of Daisy Cooks on PBS, and was treated to an Hispanic version of a cassoulet, made with ham, potatoes, and pink beans cooked to mouth watering perfection in a little chicken broth with a smattering of Alcaparrado (olives, pimentos, capers and brine) to give it a piquant twist. With that fresh in my mind, I wandered into the kitchen on a rainy day and wondered what to have for lunch. No ham on hand, but I found a couple of Boar's Head all beef franks tucked back in the freezer. They seemed a good substitute. I defrosted and sliced them and then tossed them in a saucepot for a quick sauté in a little olive oil. I added two peeled, diced Idahos and let them play tag with the dogs for a few minutes before adding a can of pink beans (rinsed and drained) and enough chicken broth to just cover everything, plus a couple of heaping tablespoons of Alcaparrado along with a smidgen of the brine, then I turned the heat down to simmer and let the stuff stew.

Once the potatoes were cooked, I was ready to eat. This is one of the fastest, comfort food meals I've ever undertaken. Thank you, Daisy. The olives and brine brought just enough zing to the overall dish to make it an amazing taste treat. Most of the broth had been absorbed but there was enough to allow for the dunking of a hunk of whole wheat bread.

Quick, easy, nutritious and very inexpensive. Think of something like this the next time you 'don't know what to cook'!

Till next time . . . keep on cooking!


Asha said...

Wonderful dish for a cold winter day:))

Anonymous said...

I think simple fare like this is the best. Much as I enjoy fancy dishes, they don't have the same comforting feeling to them. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)