In a creamy, delicately spiced leek & fresh sage stew
When I spotted this photo on Flickr recently (as yet no recipe included) I knew instantly that I had to cook a version of this. Okay, I forgot to buy the pearl barley. Which I’m pleased about as I went with potatoes yesterday for lunch instead, which was heavenly. Today, with a new bag of barley I decided to add much less of it as too many carbs on the same plate doesn’t sit well with my system. As for the leeks I was able to buy! In both stores I’ve never seen leeks that stumpy. Hardly any white to them at all. So, when I can buy decent leeks again I’ll be using the amount listed below. And mine took twice as long to get them nicely soft. Any bite to them and I’m not especially keen – the same with aubergine. What I’m really pleased with here are the Polish dry kabano sausages which contributed beautifully to the spiciness of this. I’ve never cooked with them before, and with pan-frying them to render off a little of their fat (even though they don’t contain a lot of fat) I was pleased that they kept their slight crunch, and pop, when eaten. This might be a simple enough stew, yet with the cold snap we’re having right now this was delicious comfort food. And I’ll be making this again next week, too. As for the pearl barley, looks like I’m heading into Orzotto country this weekend again. This time I might do a vegetarian version instead.
Serves 2 – 3
- 100g (3.52 oz) x dried butter beans, soaked in plenty of cold water overnight rinsed and brought to a boil, then simmered until cooked
- 50g (1.76 oz) x dried pearl barley, soaked overnight (cuts cooking time considerably), OR use dried and cook separately to the pack’s instructions (takes about 50 minutes)
- olive oil and butter
- 1 x large or 2 x medium fresh sage leaves, washed
- up to 300g (10.58 oz) x leeks, white and pale green, keep the root end on, split the leek lengthways and wash thoroughly, then slice crossways, rinse again
- 1 x dried bay leaf, split in half
- 1 or 2 x celery stalks, washed, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
- 1 or 2 x carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into 4 pieces – optional
- 2 x medium garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
- scant ¼ x cayenne pepper (start with a pinch only)
- 3 x Polish dry kabano sausages (about 100g or 3.52 oz), cut into small discs and pan-fried separately (if kabano aren’t available try using a thin, dry spicy sausage)
- 200ml (0.42 US pt lqd) x water
- 1 x organic very low salt vegetable stock cube
- 100ml (0.21 US pt lqd) x single/light cream
- 250 – 300g (8.81 – 10.58 oz) x potatoes, peeled and either keep small whole or cut smaller into chunks
- 3 x fresh sage leaves, pan-fried
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
- After rinsing the soaked overnight butter beans place them in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6) and bring to a boil, with a lid on pan. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to No 2 and simmer until cooked. This will depend on the size and quality of the beans bought. Do check them after 30 minutes or so as they will continue to cook if taken off heat. They can also be added to the sauce to cook further.
- Rinse the pearl barley and again place in a large saucepan with plenty of cold water to cover. Do the same, as in bring to a boil on heat No 4 but this time boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for about 40 minutes. Test after 30 to check for how well cooked they are. These, like the butter beans, can be added to the stew to cook further. Drain and set aside.
- In a large heavy-based saucepan add a glug of oil and put on heat No 3. When leeks are prepared place those in the pan and add the sage leaves and bay leaf. Plonk on a lid and allow to settle, stirring through occasionally. If there are any signs of scorching turn down heat and take the pan off heat to cool down. Put back on heat and continue to pan-fry until absolutely soft. When they do start to stick to the pan, and smell nicely sweet is when they should be cooked enough. Push the leeks to the sides and add the garlic with a slice of butter, allowing several minutes for the raw flavour of the garlic to cook out. Then, add a pinch of cayenne, if using, although at this stage less is more. Pour in the water, add the stock cube, celery and carrots, if using the latter. Put on heat No 4 and bring to boiling point, with a lid. Reduce heat to No 2 and stir through to make sure the stock cube has dissolved. Add the potatoes and continue to simmer, with a lid, until the potatoes start to soften. Single/light cream can be added with the potatoes as well.
- In the meantime put a heavy-based pan/skillet on heat No 2 and add the sliced kabano sausages to it without oil. Allow at least 10 – 15 minutes for them to render a little oil. And try and turn each piece over so they catch a little colour on both sides. This will help to keep them from going soggy when added to the stew. When nicely golden take off heat, remove with a slotted spoon to some kitchen paper or paper towel.
- Before the stew is needed add the kabano sausages, stir through and allow those flavours to infuse for 5 minutes. Taste for any extra needed cayenne. Chances are the sausages will have spiced this sufficiently.
- Either use the pan that held the sausages to pan-fry the whole leaves of sage or use a differing one. They need about 5 minutes each side over low heat only. When nicely crisp remove to some kitchen paper and set aside. These can be crumbled into the stew once plated up.
- This is when the butter beans and the pearl barley can be added to the stew, leaving a little more cooking time if they’re not soft enough. If that’s the case allow the potatoes to partially cook before adding the beans and barley.
- Serve either with or without the carrots and celery. Sea salt wasn’t even needed for my lunch, although I used several grinds of black pepper corns.
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