Oh, I don't know. This is an unspectacular picture illustrating an unspectacular recipe. I had such high hopes for it! Dried beans, fresh sage, canned tomatoes: I feel like it's a parade of some of my favorite foods. I looked forward to making this all week, but then was totally deflated when the stew ended up being just... ordinary. In an unfamiliar and uncomforting (you know what I mean) kind of way. I'd rather have Depression Stew any day of the week.
I'm not sure what the problem was. It didn't lack for salt, or an interplay of flavors (bay leaves, bacon, whole garlic cloves). But after eating a single bowl of it the other night, I had to force myself to save the rest in Tupperware. Was it because my bacon was cured, not smoked? Was it because I harbor a not-so-secret burning love for canned beans, and find soaking and cooking dry beans to be too much work for no good reason? Or was it just an uninspired recipe?
I'll stick the rest in the freezer and hope that on days when I find myself scrounging about in there for something to eat, I won't care what I find. In fact I'll be grateful to find a perfectly edible, if utterly forgettable, meal to defrost and eat. But what irritates me is that I can't throw the recipe out just yet, because I glued this one on the back of it, and even though I professed skepticism about Mr. Minimalism, I'm intrigued...
Beans with Lardons and Sage
Serves 4 to 6
1/2 pound (1 1/4 cups) dried beans such as flageolet, Jacob's Cattle or cannellini
2 ounces smoked slab bacon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (1/2 cup cubed)
1 (28-ounce) can plum tomatoes, drained and chopped (about 2 cups diced)
8 leaves fresh sage
8 cloves garlic, peeled
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1. Sort the beans to remove any stones. Place them in a bowl and add cold water to cover by 3 inches. Soak overnight, changing the water once or twice.
2. The next day, boil a small pot of water, add the bacon and blanch 10 minutes. Drain and reserve.
3. Drain the beans and place in a large pot. Add the bacon, tomatoes, sage, garlic, bay leaves and pepper. Mix well. Add about 8 cups cold water (to cover the beans by 3 inches) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the beans are very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Serve in a warm bowl.