It is around this time of year, when it’s cold and snowy, and about as far away from either end of the garden season as you can get, that I am most grateful that I plant dry beans in my garden. The ability to spend an hour in the kitchen, preparing a warm and hearty meal and proclaim, I grew that!, is priceless any time of the year, but even more so during the depths of winter when this seems so far out of reach:
Coincidentally, being reminded of how the dried beans soaked up all that green and sunshine, makes them taste even better!
I will admit that Good Mother Stallard was a garden selection based entirely on appearance. I knew they were a good cooking bean, but really it was the pretty speckles and colors that jumped off the pages of the seed catalog and made me try this beautiful heirloom variety. I patiently waited all season, as they grew,climbed, set pods, and filled out. They were about as easy to grow as it gets. When it was finally time to shell the dried bean pods, they did not disappoint; they were gorgeous!
And it only gets better: this bean is as flavorful as it is beautiful.
Good Mother Stallard beans cook up very nicely, to just the right perfectly plump bite. The beans are exceptionally tender and creamy, and have the most amazing flavor! They almost have a natural smokiness that gives them a particularly rich, full flavor. I could have easily eaten these beans just as they came out of the pot, without any additional seasoning or accompanying ingredients, they were that good.
I used the following recipe for my inaugural cooking experience with Good Mother Stallard. I took a little inspiration from a soup recipe that paired Good Mother Stallard beans with the sweetness of carrots and used the smoked sausage and fresh kale we had on hand. It was an improvise as you go kind of cooking day, so the measurements aren’t exact, but should be pretty close. I had envisioned this dish turning out more like a stew, but the end result was even more hearty and tasty than I could have imagined. As is often the case with this type of dish, it is even better the second time around, after the flavors have had a little extra time to develop!
Good Mother Stallard Beans with Smoked Sausage + Kale
2 cups dry Good Mother Stallard Beans
1 lb. smoked turkey sausage (or similar substitute)
1 large yellow onion
1 celery stalk
4 cloves garlic
A couple handfuls of fresh kale
Seasoning, to taste
In a large pot of cold water, add the dry beans, half an onion, a carrot, and a stalk of celery (cut vegetables down in size, as needed). Cover, and slowly bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are fully cooked (about 1 ½ to 2 hours, but sooo worth the wait).
While beans are cooking, cook the sausage, dice the remaining half onion and carrot, mince the garlic cloves, and chop the kale into small half bite-sized pieces.
Drain the cooked beans and set aside, reserving 2-3 cups of the cooking liquid.
Slice the cooked sausage into bite-sized pieces and heat in a large skillet until it is nicely seared. Remove the sausage and add a little olive oil. When olive oil is hot, add the diced carrot and onion and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the reserved cooking liquid, the sausage, and the beans to the skillet, and season as desired (I added a few pinches of parsley, summer savory, and a little black pepper). Continue to cook on medium heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add the kale and finish cooking just until the kale is soft.