Pork ‘n’ Beans, Italian-Style!

It has been unseasonably warm around Washington, DC the past two days.  So warm that I was able to do some additional clean-up by our front walkway in preparation for putting up our Christmas lights (giant candy canes).  I still have to finalize what I’m making for the year-end Mommy Dinner this Saturday, but I’m leaning towards trying out some new dishes that I want to serve for our family Christmas dinner.

Tonight’s dinner was going to be an easy one-pot since Kurt had requested a recipe we’ve modified from a cook book by Marcella Hazan that features Italian sausage and black-eyed peas simmered in a tomato sauce flavored by the trinity of onion, celery and carrots.  So easy and I can let the whole thing simmer undisturbed while I go about whatever tasks I have.  It’s not a heavy creamy dish, so it will be just right with this warm weather– a lighter version of American pork and beans.  The black-eyed peas have a sweetness from the carrots; don’t overcook them!

Italian Sausage and Black-eyed Peas Simmered in Tomatoes

  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage links
  • 1 1/2 cups dried black-eyed peas, soaked at least one hour in warm water (the longer you soak them, the less cooking time need)
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 small to medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 cans chopped or diced tomatoes (I use Pomi chopped)
  • water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak the peas in a bowl covered by several inches of water, for at least one hour.  I set mine out in the morning, so they went most of the day.  Chop the onion, celery and carrots to approximately the same size; you want roughly equal amounts of all three.  Mince the garlic.  Now you have everything to begin assembly:

Chopped!

Chopped!

Heat a large saute pan or small dutch oven over medium heat; generously coat the bottom with olive oil.  When the oil is shimmering, add the onion, celery and carrots.  By the way, since I’ve been randomly throwing around cooking terms throughout my blog, I guess I should let you know the technical term for the celery-onion-carrot trinity is mirepoix.  (Yeah, another French term).  Season with a little salt and pepper (not too much salt since salt toughens beans).

Once the vegetables have softened, toss in the garlic and cook briefly for another minute or two.

Add the tomatoes and let simmer until almost all the liquid has evaporated. You want to concentrate the tomato flavor since you’ll be adding water to cook the peas.

Pan should almost be dry…

Add the sausages and if you want, cook briefly.  I don’t bother with this step since they will cook for at least 45 minutes with the peas, but that’s what the original recipe says to do.  Kurt and I don’t detect any difference in flavor…

Add the soaked peas and enough water to cover.

Bring the pot to a boil, clamp on a lid and lower the heat to a simmer.  Simmer until peas are tender.  For me this was about 45 minutes, but I had soaked the beans all day.  Test for doneness by tasting FIVE peas– they are all different sizes so you want to test more than one!  I usually reduce the liquid by rapid boiling at this point to produce a slightly thickened sauce.

Hearty but not heavy.

And now for the Cornbread recipe:

I am so thrilled that my gal pal Kath (like Jacki, a graduate of our all-girls Catholic high school) is going to make the Easy BBQ Ribs; she said this will be her first time because, after reading my last post, she knew she could do it.  She wanted the cornbread recipe, too, so I’m posting it here for her and those of you who want to try it.  Note:  It is not the crumbly, savory kind (that I and my BIL Jeff prefer), but it is sweet and almost cake-like in texture (which is what Kurt and Ken prefer).  The buttermilk is what keeps it very moist!

Ken and Kurt’s Cornbread

  • 1 c flour
  • 1 c cornmeal
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 stick (4 oz) of unsalted butter
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup of buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray an 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray (I’ve also used a 9 inch cake pan).  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

Place sugar into a mixing bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave and pour immediately onto the sugar, whisking to combine.  Then add the beaten eggs and buttermilk and whisk again briefly to combine.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  It’s OK if there are a few small lumps; you don’t want to over-mix.

Pour the batter into the greased pan and bake from 30 to 40 minutes until a toothpick/cake tester comes out clean.  Cut into 9 squares.

Refrigerated leftover cornbread reheats well in the microwave; Ken often carries a piece with him to nosh on the way to the bus stop!  Have fun with it, Kath!

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Filed under Baked Goods, Family, Food, Friends, Main Dishes

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