Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cooking Light Night: Election Night Slow Cooker White Beans & Smoked Sausage

Election Day is less than a week away, so of course I've started thinking about the menu! In 2000, before we or any of our friends had kids, we threw a returns-watching party on Election Night. I won't tell you if we celebrated or mourned that night, as this is not that kind of blog, but I will tell you that we SURE WERE GLAD that we had eaten a stick-to-your-ribs kind of dinner like sausage and beans to get us through a long night of states being givethed and takethed away.

So here we are, eight years later. Given that the polls will still be open in California when my bedtime rolls around, we won't be having a returns-watching party this year, but we do so love a manufactured tradition in our house, so you can bet that we'll stick with our traditional Election Night sausage and white bean supper! In fact, as if by fate, an email from Cooking Light landed in my inbox a couple of weeks ago: "42 Slow Cooker Favorites," and it included this recipe for "Tiny French Beans with Smoked Sausage."

Cooking Light recommends that you use "flageolets," which are small french beans. While I am willing to run around town looking for some crazy foods, dried beans ain't one of them. Cooking Light does helpfully provide an online source for flageolets, Indian Harvest. I know that any day now, I am going to cross into that "crazy foodie" territory and start trolling the internet for specialty ingredients, but you can rest assured that my first online food purchase will not be beans.

Okay! Now that I am finished disparaging beans and declaring them not worthy of my time, let's move on to my bean dinner, shall we? First, the ingredient rundown. To the surprise of no one, Publix did not have flageolets. They had Great Northern beans, so rather than using "tiny French beans," I used "medium American beans."

I used fresh rosemary instead of either dried or fresh thyme. Because I knew that even if "my guy" doesn't win, fresh rosemary makes everything seem a little better. And I threw a bay leaf in there, just 'cause. And for extra credit, I used some leftover homemade chicken stock instead of canned.

This is an easy dish to put together. Brown up your sausage. Then saute up some shallots and garlic. Rinse and sort either your fancy pants beans or your regular old beans, depending on how lazy of a shopper you were.

Regular ol' beans:

And then mix it all up in your magic Crock Pot, and go vote!

The recipe said to cook this on high for 8 hours, but mine was definitely done after 6.5 hours. It was actually looking a little angry by then, to be honest with you, and I don't think it would have enjoyed the extra hour and a half in the hot tub. Next time, I might try it on low and just see how long it takes.

This is a great fall dish -- hearty, comforting, and quick to put together. And who doesn't love coming home and having dinner ready and waiting? When you're in the mood for a hot bowl of something, add this one to your short list!

And thanks again, Clara, for generously sharing your Cooking Light Night idea and avatar with us!

Tiny French Beans with Smoked Sausage, from Cooking Light, March 2003

8 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

2 pounds smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups dried flageolets or other dried white beans, (about 1 pound)
2 cups water
1/4 cup minced fresh or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add sausage; sauté 5 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan, and place in an electric slow cooker. Heat the oil in pan over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Sort and wash beans. Add beans, shallot mixture, water, and the remaining ingredients to slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 8 hours or until beans are tender.

Nutritional Information
Calories:397 (30% from fat)
Fat:13.1g (sat 3.7g,mono 4.3g,poly 3.7g)


Audrey said...

I just heard someone say that history is going to be made on Tuesday either way, so this is definitely a night to keep that tradition going! I'm voting early - Medium American Beans and Sausage all the way!

Di said...

That looks really yummy! I've been looking for some new slow cooker recipes. I'd rather try something that comes recommended from someone I trust, instead of just pulling something off a recipe site.

Julie said...

O.M.G. I thought I was the only person on the planet who (i) thought about preplanning dinner for election night a week in advance and (ii) had a return watching party. YAY!!!! I am normal after all. Except, this year instead of the usual pizza and beer we've elected to go exotic with fried chicken and whiskey. Ooooooh, what WILL the neighbors think???

CB said...

Election partay! Heck yeah. My hubs is a huge politics freak so we always have an "election pary" every year. Personally I am not as into politics as him. I come for the food. HAHA. Man I am such a slacker on CL nights lately. I need to get back on that horse.

Prudy said...

Great idea to celebrate the vote. It must be your brilliang law background to think of such things. This looks so yummy and I love the bean swap. Definitely don't want to be hunting for beans, especially when we could be at Target hunting for those bargain costumes!

Debinhawaii said...

What could be better than sausage and beans in the slow cooker! Yum!

Martha said...

These look good. No French beans on the prairie either!


Lady Baker said...

ahhh...election day! I must say I usually have an itch to go hang out at our town's headquarters on election day as I spent many a "first tuesday after the first monday of November" there. There is NOTHING like the energy of that day and night and all the hub-bub. Waiting for the polls to close and mark on a big poster board the returns from each polling place...the cheering, jeering, all huddled around some TV to see what was going on nationally and state wide...nothing like it.

Alas, now I spend it at home, watching some yahoo talking head...but I love it just the same!

Vote Early and Often!! (a little joke my dad used to quip each year....I try to carry on the tradition of saying it!)

Laura said...

Oh, does this look good! So nice and homey and warm - for some reason fall up here in the midwest always catches me off guard - one day it's 80 then the next its 50 and just goes downhill from there til May. I really miss living in the south :-)

You've sold me - we're going to have our own little election night party (party of 6, that is) featuring this for dinner. Hmmmmm, any ideas for party games - pin the tail on the donkey/elephant perhaps?

Cathy said...

Oh Laura, somehow I just knew that you'd know how to throw a party! Pin the tail on the donkey/elephant -- now that's just plain brilliant! A variation could be "pin the tail on John McCain/Barack Obama" (you know, whichever candidate you're rootin' against) -- but since we're still trying to teach the kids "respect for the office," I suppose that one will have to wait a few years.

Andrea said...

I'm planning a little election night open house as well :) The kids are helping to make some donkey and elephant sugar cookies, with red white and blue sprinkles of course. Thanks for the idea of beans in the slow cooker, now you have me thinking of a kidney (red) northern (white) and blue potato (if I can locate them) stew for our election night shenanigans. I can't wait to see what happens.

Anonymous said...

This looks perfect for ANY night. I'm with you on the beans. One summer I spent way to long picking and shelling butter beans. They were good but not THAT good!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I love comfort food like this! And why haven't I used my trusty old crockpot? I need to pull it down off my shelf and start using it! Thanks for the inspiration Cathy!

Blond Duck said...

That looks so good! Any ideas what I could throw in instead of sausage for my pork-non-eating picky husband? Maybe hot dogs???

Cathy said...

Hi Blond Duck! I actually used smoked turkey sausage. I would think hot dogs would be great, too. Really, any smoked meat. I personally love sausage and hot dogs of any kind, as long as I don't think too much about what's in them!

n.o.e said...

I just walked in from Publix with that EXACT bag of beans! My recipe called for cannelini and I was standing there trying to remember what bean that was supposed to be in "publix-speak". Just watch those fancy French beans try to stand up to 6.5 hours in the hot tub like the good ol American ones can. So this recipe will go on my List. Now that cold weather has finally arrived I'm ready for warm hearty food, and any smoked or cured meat has my vote!

Mary Ann said...

I have to say, I have never celebrated election day with food. Very Interesting. This looks like a great dinner to go with though. I miss Publix! This dinner reminds of a cassolet that my mom used to make when I was younger. I love Cooking Light so much. I wish I worked in their test kitchen. Thanks for sharing a great recipe, Cathy!

Jamie said...

This looks so delcious and would be awesome with some crusty bread! Thanks for posting, Cathy!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Now you've practiced that awesome looking meal for your election night meal! You're amazing. Next, you will be online digging for that unique food item.

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Yup, I definitely like you and your blog and feel a great sense of kinship between us. You have to have a strong constitition (tee hee) to get through election night without throwing up. Wouldn't want to waste those regular American beans and all. Nice recipe.

n.o.e said...

Hey Cathy-

Wanted to come back to wish you a Happy Birthday! I know it is/was sometime this week, and I hope you get to celebrate with loved ones and receive a gift (or two) for your kitchen. A unitasking appliance would be good.

Also, can I take this opportunity to correct my spelling of cannellini, above? I bought turkey kielbasa today at Trader Joe's so I may make your recipe instead of the one I was planning.

Natashya said...

Great fall dish! I am always looking for bean dishes for my veggie daughter. I do have Great Northern Beans somewhere.
I like that the beans cook in the slow cooker. I have a new slow cooker book that lists having the beans/grains cooked first seperately! What is with that? Seems against all slow cooker logic.

Ali said...

that looks like the perfect comfort food! Totally delicious!

Lisa magicsprinkles said...

Me again. I've left a surprise for you at my blog!

Maria said...

Maybe I will make this for tomorrow night! I am sure we will be glued to the TV watching the election outcome!

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