But in the end, just about everything in our kitchen ended up in this stew. I envisioned simple white beans, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, chicken and nitrate-free Amish sausage. There were no small white beans to be found at Whole Foods, so I ended up with a pound of green lentils and a cup of pinto beans from the pantry, which I sprouted. And it was anybody's game from there.
I started a mirepoix with ten onions, a cup of sundried tomatoes, a head of celery, and two pounds of carrots. I sauteed the onions with the tomatoes and Amish butter and tossed them with the other vegetables. Then I sliced a pound of criminis and sauteed them in butter as well. Then I happened upon four yellow bell peppers at Peas in a Pod in the ten-cent basket, so I tossed those into the oven at 350 F, right on the rack. When they were wrinkly and browned, I peeled, sliced and stashed them away with the mushrooms and mirepoix. I also had three sweet potatoes and five zucchini, which I diced and roasted with olive oil and salt at 350 until soft.
I roasted a chicken, collected the meat and returned the bones to the pot for a stock. When the stock was ready, in went all the vegetables and sprouts, followed by half a roasted butternut squash, a grated dried chipotle, a cup of crushed San Marzano tomatoes, a third of a cup of crushed pineapple, and a pound of sausage shaped into little meatballs. Just before serving, I tossed in some baby spinach and mild Amish Colby cheese.
"There's stew, and then there's stew." - Dave Goneau
The best utensil for stew is a slice of hearty whole wheat sourdough, especially one that is butter-fried. For my sponge I used 5 ounces starter, 10 ounces water and 12 ounces freshly ground wheat. The next day I kneaded in 2.5 ounces wheat, an ounce of melted butter, a tablespoon of honey, half a tablespoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of baking soda for flavor. I let it rise for about two hours, balled it up in a greased loaf pan, let it rise another hour and a half, and baked it at 350 for about forty-five minutes. Beautiful.
In the future I'd like to try colder, slower rises for my sourdough, which are said to develop better flavor and texture. Experimentation makes food exciting, but an old reliable recipe is a real treasure.