Thursday, December 1, 2011

Italian Sausage and Pinto Bean Stew

The days of class are dwindling, and so is my bank account.  So I have been stewing up some ideas to stay full on empty.  Soups and stews are great values for your money.  Both tend to be “set-it-and-forget-it” kind of recipes, great for exam periods when the only thing you (should be) involved in is studying.   Having a slow cooker or Crockpot makes your dinner just a click away, however, you can still do it old school – with a pot – like me.
Tonight’s dinner was a hearty bean and sausage stew.  It doesn’t require fancy vegetables, or great cuts of meat; it’s a pretty “pantry style” meal.  I loved this stew because it was not only savory the first time, but as a leftover, there were still unique ways to eat it.  In its original stew form, its velvety texture makes it a smooth criminal.  Spooned over rice or a thick slice of cornbread, you stretch it out, making it last for days.  Topped with cheddar cheese and a fried egg can make it protein packed and bursting with flavor.  So don’t be afraid of leftovers when you know you’ll have options.  It can be a good way to use less, and eat more.   
Italian Sausage and Pinto Bean Stew
3 Italian Sausages (mild or hot)
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, with liquid
1 cup diced tomatoes (½ small can, with liquid)
1 T paprika (smoked or sweet)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1.       First slice sausages in half, then slice each half into ½ inch pieces.
2.       Over medium heat, heat medium sized frying pan.  Add sausages and cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until well browned.
3.       Reserve about 2 T grease from sausages in frying pan, then add onion, pepper, garlic, and jalapeno.
4.       Over medium heat, cook onion mixture until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Season with paprika, salt, and pepper.
5.       Meanwhile, in a large saucepot, bring pinto beans and diced tomatoes up to a boil. 
6.       Once boiling, add sausage and cook until the liquid has reduced by about half, probably about 5-6 minutes.
7.       Add onion mixture, stir and reduce heat to medium. 
8.       Once sauce has come to desired thickness, remove from heat and serve.   (If you like a thinner stew, add water.)