Monday, October 10, 2011

Falling for Savory Fall Stew

I'm embarrassed to say, I can't believe its been a year since I posted to this blog. I meant to, really, but it just didn't happen.  After returning from Barcelona and Marrakech, I started a new job, and I just got busy and although I committed to this, I failed miserably the first time around.   

But I am back. And after our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest (Portland and Orcas Island) and a bit of prodding from my friend Patrick with his new wine consulting business and blog, , I am re-energized.

Foodies that we are, we absolutely loved Portland, and being there made us realize just how starved we are of a true food movement here in the desert. 

Portland's food scene is amazing and I was almost in tears as we walked though the Saturday Farmer's Market at the University.  Walking through all that amazing produce and people selling there food creations was a highlight of the trip. And we without a stove!

I was able to bring back some delightful flavored vinegars from Blossom Vinegars- and, with so many choices, I settled on some Saffron Salt and Lemon Flake Salt from The Meadow Salt and Chocolate Shop

While sharing some wonderful local wines with our friend Mariel in Portland, she was telling us about her garden and how she was getting ready to pick some Parsnips.  This reminded me of the Savory Fall Stew recipe I had.  I enjoy making this stew as the evening temperatures cool and I start to get in the cooking mood again.  I shared the recipe with her and she loved it, and I decided I wanted to make it again.

I will share it with you too. So here it is,  Savory Fall Stew. I've made this both in a pot (as the recipe states) and in the Slow Cooker.   This time it was done in the slow cooker on high for 4-5 hours because I like the way the vegetables hold up with a slow cooked method.  The earthiness of the Brussels Sprouts and the sweetness of the Parsnips are great together. Savor the flavors of Fall!  and save some for leftovers.  It's great.

Savory Fall Stew

Serves 4 - 6 people 

2 T olive oil
12 oz hot Italian sausage, cut into small chunks
12 cipolline onions (pearl onions can be substituted) peeled
1 ½ cups crushed tomatoes
3 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken stock, skimmed of fat
1-  ½-oz bundle of herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, or oregano
1-     2 ½ pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
3 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch pieces
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch long sticks
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut in half
12 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
2 t salt
1/8 t freshly ground pepper

Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat.  Add sausage, stirring until sausage breaks into small pieces and is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.  Remove with slotted spoon, set aside.

Pour off all but 2 T rendered fat, and discard.  Raise heat to medium high, add onions; cook, stirring, until golden, 5 to 6 minutes.

(At this point, I put the sausage and onions in the slow cooker and added the remaining ingredients. Stir to mx.)

Add tomatoes, stock, and herbs; simmer over medium heat until liquid starts to thicken, 20 to 25 minutes.

Add sausage, squash, carrots, parsnips, and fennel; cover and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Add Brussels sprouts; cook, covered, about 5 minutes more. (or cook on high in the slow cooker for 4-5 hours)

Remove cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Adjust seasonings and serve