Once again, it’s been snowing like crazy here on the east coast, and there is nothing more satisfying and delicious after shoveling out your car (for what seems like the bazillionth time this winter) then this Hearty Tuscan Bean Stew from Cook’s Illustrated. I think it’s best when made with kale (pictured here), but a mixture of greens is also great. This is one of those simple, healthy, pretty much foolproof recipes that seems to come out perfect every time (the secret is cooking it in a good, heavy duty dutch oven). If you’re more into soups then stews, just add another cup of chicken broth and 3/4 cup of water when you add the greens. A big bowl of stew, topped with grated Parmesan cheese and served with a toasted piece of crusty garlic bread makes an amazing meal. I also always add a couple of squirts of Sriracha sauce for a little spicy, garlicky kick.
Another great thing about this stew is that it freezes perfectly. Just divide it into serving size portions, freeze, and when you get a craving, just pop it into the microwave for a couple of minutes and it tastes as good as the day it was made.
Please click here for a printable copy of the Hearty Tuscan Bean Stew recipe.
Back in 1976, I was working at The Foundry restaurant in DC and one of the waiters, Michael Murphy, who happened to be from Buffalo, told us of the amazingly simple way they prepared, of all things, chicken wings, up there at a place called the Anchor Bar. We started giving away the Buffalo Chicken Wings during Happy Hour and immediately the place became packed each day at around 4:45 pm with everyone waiting for the wings to come out of the kitchen…and the rest is culinary history. It seems that every bar today has chicken wings on the menu, and for good reason…when they’re made right, they’re incredibly and addictingly (if that’s even a word) good! They’re actually very simple to make…cut 12 wings into three pieces at the joints (discard the wing tips or keep them for preparing stock) and just deep fry the flats and drummettes for 10-12 minutes in 375 degree oil (preferably peanut) until they’re crispy and golden brown, toss them in Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and serve with celery and bleu cheese dressing…that’s it…nothing else is needed. The problem is that it’s really a pain (and a greasy mess) to deep fry at home, so here is the next best thing…bake them in the oven. The secret to getting them to cook perfectly is to first steam them in a steamer basket over boiling water for 10 minutes. Carefully pat them dry and place them on a oven proof rack (or parchment paper) in a sheet pan, sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and place in the refrigerator for about an hour. Then stick the whole deal in a 425 degree oven and bake for about 40 minutes until golden and crispy, turning the wings over halfway through. This cooking technique is from Alton Brown, but in his recipe, he wants you to add butter and garlic to the sauce, which is absolutely unnecessary (and not authentic!). When the wings are done, just toss them in a generous helping (about 1/2 cup) of warmed Frank’s Red Hot Sauce until completely coated and serve with bleu cheese dressing and celery sticks. There you have it…all the crispness, texture and flavor of deep frying with none of the mess.