Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sadie's Horse Bean and Chicken Stew

Yesterday we shelled our Sadie's Horse Beans. Since the shell is tough, unless it is quite young, the inside seed is what you want. Those beans that had developed earlier and dried on the vine, were shelled and put aside for seed.

The remainder (pictured above) yielded 4 pounds of beautiful beans. Our harvest would have been larger, but something ate many of beans as soon as they were newly formed. (Suspect: grasshoppers) Nonetheless, enough was on hand to make a hearty pot of stew.

Considered a rare heirloom over one hundred years old, I am fascinated by this bean: by the size of seed, the lovely multi-colored blossoms of white and scarlet growing on vigorous vines; and the gorgeous array of colored beans, from a solid white to mottled gray, brown, pink and purple. More importantly, it is a substantial and flavorful bean. Look at the size next to my husband's hands.

Considered a runner bean, Phaseolus coccineus), please be aware that they contain traces of the poisonous lectin, Phytohaemagglutinin, found in common beans and hence must be thoroughly cooked before consumption.

Will I grow it again next year? Likely, but I would like to try several other heirlooms about which I have recently read.

Sadie’s Horse Bean and Chicken Stew from Diana’s Kitchen

2 1/2 pounds Chicken (2 large chicken breasts and 5 drumsticks I had on hand)
1/4 cup unbleached flour

3 strips thick-sliced bacon

2-3 TB Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion (1 cup), chopped
4 celery stalks (1 cup), chopped
1 large carrot (1 cup), chopped
Kosher salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh lemon thyme
1/4 cup fresh basil, lightly chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

3 cups roasted heirloom tomatoes (see recipe) or canned plum tomatoes
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken stock
4 pounds of freshly shelled Sadie’s Horse Beans

Remove any skin from the chicken and discard. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Lightly coat each chicken piece in the flour mixture and set aside on a plate.

Brown the strips of bacon in a Dutch oven, remove and place on a paper towel to drain. In the same Dutch oven and on medium heat, brown the chicken pieces in the remaining bacon fat, about 6-8 minutes each side. Remove the chicken to a side plate.

Add several tablespoons of olive oil to the Dutch oven and add the onion, celery, carrots, salt and pepper, and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, lemon thyme, basil, bay leaf, cayenne pepper; stir and sauté for a few more minutes.

(The chicken breasts were cut on the diagonal in one inch slices.) Add tomatoes, wine and chicken stock to the mixture, stir and heat. Put the chicken back into the pot, add the fresh beans and bring the stew back to a simmer. Place the stew in a preheated 350 degree F oven, uncovered, and for about 1 hour.

Serve with a glass of a nice slightly chilled white wine (Pinot Gris) and a crusty multi-grain bread… now that is comfort food for us.

Note: The bacon is optional, but since this was an old-fashioned bean, I thought an old-fashioned flavour was in order.

As for cooking with wine: be sure you cook with the same wine you are planning to drink.