The 3 main components for this stew are prepared separately and then combined at the end. I find it's easiest to make sure each different component is properly cooked if prepared separately and they also retain their individual flavors. This can easily be turned into a vegetarian main dish by omitting the ham hock and anchovy. Perhaps substitute some dried porcini mushrooms for the ham hock.
For the beans:
6 ounces dry Tarbais beans
1 small smoked ham hock
1 bay leaf
A 1 1/2-inch piece of dried kombu kelp (supposedly aids digestibility)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart cold water
For the squash:
1 1/4 pound piece of winter squash (Terremoto)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 small sprigs rosemary, chopped (1 to 2 tablespoons?)
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon fermented sweet pepper paste
1 anchovy packed in olive oil
2 cups tomato puree
Cooking liquid from the beans (the bean broth)
For the cabbage:
1/2 head small green cabbage, cut in about 1 to 1 1/2-inch squares
salt to taste
chopped fresh parsley
Start the beans first, I do this in the morning. Put all the ingredients for the beans into a small heavy covered casserole and cover. Place in the oven and heat to 250ºF. After 1 hour turn the temperature down to 220ºF. Cook, covered, until the beans are tender but not falling apart, about 5 to 6 hours, more or less depending on how old the beans are. Check the beans every hour or so and once they are plump and starting to soften check them more often. Set the beans aside to cool in the bean broth. The beans can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator in the cooking liquid. They can sit at room temperature until the stew is assembled. Once the beans are cool remove the ham hock and remove the meat and shred finely. Set the shredded ham aside separately.
To cook the squash and stew base. First remove the seeds and then cut the squash into 3/4-inch thick slices (I use the width of my index finger as a guide), cut off the skins, then cut the slices into cubes and set them aside. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a deep heavy pot, I use a 5-quart Staub enameled cast iron pot. Saute the onions and garlic over medium-low heat until they are softened. Add the rosemary, tomato paste, pepper paste, and anchovy to the pot and stir until the pastes and anchovy are incorporated. Allow the flavor base to sizzle a bit and then add the tomato puree. Stir the squash into the tomato sauce and stir in enough bean broth to cover the squash. Bring to a strong simmer and cook uncovered until the squash is tender.
While the squash is cooking prepare the cabbage. Heat a couple of tablespoons over medium heat in a wide saute pan. When the oil just starts to shimmer add the cabbage and saute a couple of minutes and then add about 1/2 cup of the bean broth. Cover the pan and allow the cabbage to cook until it is just tender. Remove from the heat and reserve.
To assemble the stew. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid, and gently stir the beans into the pot of squash. Stir in the reserved shredded ham. Stir in the tender cabbage. Add the rest of the bean broth. Season to taste with salt and stir in some chopped fresh parsley. Serve with additional chopped parsley on top.
Made about 6 main course servings.
About This Blog
This is, as the title indicates, my kitchen notebook (the header is actually a scanned image of the cover of a notebook that I started using about 25 years ago and the background is a stained page from that book). I am not a professional recipe writer. If you try any recipe here, please keep that in mind, these recipes have not been tested by an independent tester. The "recipes" are often not even really recipes but rather a list of ingredients that I've noted after preparing a dish on the fly that I thought came out well. Perhaps I've also added some instructions, but I rarely keep accurate track of what I've done in terms of time or temperature, I've just noted to the best of my memory (feeble) what I did.
Please feel free to take some inspiration from here, but on the other hand, please give credit where it is due. I also welcome any constructive comments that you might have if you are inspired to try a recipe. Questions are welcome, but keep in mind that I may not remember specifics. The dishes do evolve over time...
Thank you and enjoy!