Comfort food is central to southern cooking. The food that we grew up eating, that every time we have it it brings back a memory, or that just makes us feel good and satisfied. While comfort foods come in all flavors throughout the year, some of the best are things we eat during the colder months. Food that helps keep you warm on a cold night is our idea of comfort. A hearty, filling meal that you can make in just one pot? Even better. We use our slow-cooker for this recipe, but if you’ve got the time, a big stock pot on the stove or cast iron pot in the oven will work just fine too. This dish comes with a lot of flavor, particularly a lot of spice. We use our Devil’s Nectar Bar-B-Que Sauce to flavor it, and fair warning, this stuff is intense and HOT. Now we love spicy foods, and we know some of you do too, so feel free to add as much heat as you want. Be warned, though, it doesn’t take much to really light this dish up.
This is one of those recipes that is real easy to make, and also easy to modify to your own personal taste. We start with white beans. Larger beans work best, so Cannellini or Butter Beans are ideal. If fresh beans are in season and easy to find, use those. Dried beans will work well too. Canned beans are the easiest, and they still taste great in here, so don’t be afraid to use those. If you use canned beans, it’s good to drain and rinse them before they go in the pot, because beans are canned with quite a lot of salt, and too much of that can really mess up your food. We add our salt at the end so we can make sure everything is tasting right. If it’s all in there at the beginning, it might be too much and then it’s too late. Plus when you cook something slowly like this, flavors will develop and change over time, so save your seasoning for the very end. Next come the greens. Something sturdy is going to work best. A softer green like spinach will get cooked to death in this recipe and end up too wilted and mushy. So we used kale in ours, but collards or mustard greens will also work, and might even add a little extra flavor to your dish. This is a recipe that only gets better the longer you cook it, and is just as good (or better) the next day.
2 cups diced onion (about 1 large onion)
3 T minced garlic
2 T oil
1 lb smoked sausage, diced
2 15.5 oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
6 cups roughly chopped greens
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
¼ cup or more Martin’s Bar-B-Que Devil’s Nectar Sauce*
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic. sautee about 5 minutes, or until onions start to sweat. Add smoked sausage, turn up the heat to medium high, and cook until sausage starts to brown, 5-10 more minutes. Put sausage mixture in slow cooker and add beans, tomatoes, Devil’s Nectar Sauce, sugar, and stock. Set slow cooker to high. Once stew is hot, stir in the greens and set cooker to low heat. Cook for at least 4 hours and taste. Add salt to taste, and more Devil’s Nectar if it’s not hot enough for you.
*¼ cup of the Devil’s Nectar Sauce makes this dish fairly spicy, so start with that and add more if you like. This sauce is serious business and it’s easier to add more heat than to take the heat out.