Springtime Stew

I know what you’re thinking: spring and stew aren’t normally things that go together. While I’d usually agree, for those of us in the Midwest, we are still waiting for spring. The first week of April gave us about another 12″ of snow followed by actual spring weather that melted the majority of the snow, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some more snow. I recalled having to delay my birthday last year because we’d gotten 10″ of heavy wet snow and sighed. To cheer myself up, I pulled a newfound favorite recipe out of my large collection: chorizo and white bean stew. It’s perfect for this transitional time: the spicy broth and spinach help lighten and brighten it up, but it is still quite filling.

While it looks pretty fancy and complicated, the ingredients can be found easily and requires very little equipment: a knife, a cutting board and a skillet. Best of all, the dish is quick and made in one pot. I’m not too familiar with chorizo, but knew it had a bit of heat. The first time I made the stew, I wasn’t sure if I could find it at the store. I debated using Italian sausage like the recipe suggested, but I feared the very different flavor profiles might spoil the taste. I ended up finding chorizo prepackaged by the sausages/brats as well as fresh links in the meat/deli counter and went for it.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Since everything is cooked in the same skillet, the broth picked up a nice spicy bite from the chorizo (something I wouldn’t have achieved¬† if I had subbed the Italian sausage) with some yummy caramelized hints of onion and garlic. I am usually not a fan of broths, but I would have been happy to just have a bowl of it. I love to make it when the Vidalia onions are in season. I am not an onion fan, but Vidalias manage to change my mind. The spinach was lightly wilted, not slimy, making it a good way to convince skeptical friends and family spinach isn’t such a bad vegetable.

Even with all the prep work (and I’m kinda slow at prepping), it really did take about 45 minutes to get it on the table. I used a mandolin to slice my onions thinly; they were much easier to eat and they browned quicker and more evenly. The chorizo I bought was larger than the ones used in the magazine, making getting one “perfect” spoonful with all the ingredients difficult, so next time I will chop the chorizo smaller as well as rip the spinach up (our store’s version of “baby spinach” is not too accurate). If people will be eating the stew at different times, I would suggest letting people add spinach to their own bowls instead of adding it all to the skillet.

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Chorizo & White Bean Stew

From Bon Appetit, February 2013 issue
Serves 4; Prep: 45 mins

Click here for a printable version

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 pound fresh Mexican chorizo or Italian sausage links
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 5 ounces baby spinach (about 10 cups)
  • Smoked paprika (optional) 
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate.

  • Reduce heat to medium. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add onion, garlic, and thyme sprig. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5-8 minutes. Add beans and broth and cook, crushing a few beans with the back of a spoon to thicken sauce, until slightly thickened, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach by handfuls and cook just until wilted, about 2 minutes. 

  • Slice chorizo and fold into stew; add water to thin, if desired. Divide stew among bowls; drizzle with oil and sprinkle with paprika, if desired.
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