Mushroom Ragout over Cranberry Beans
It seems that we've been doing a lot of braises lately, they're just so convenient; get a cheap cut of meat and cook it slowly for hours upon end until it's irresistibly tender. But woman cannot live on braises alone, unfortunately, so I set out to create a (almost) vegetarian option for all those braise-worshipers out there, like myself, and I ended up with a hearty, slow-cooked mushroom ragout served over a big heap of cranberry beans.
Of course, with practically any recipe there are shortcuts that can be taken but in this case it's not encouraged. The trick to making this dish great is letting all of the flavors build slowly and develop fully. The good news is that aside from some early vegetable chopping, there's little hands-on time and you can sort of forget about your pot of Mushroom Ragout and just let it simmer away, leaving you free to tend to other things.
After a couple of hours of simmering, you'll be left with a deep, dark, and surprisingly hearty ragout to pour over cranberry beans. A great balance of earthiness from the mushrooms and herbs, a natural sweetness from the carrots and the slightest gentle hint of tang from the Sherry vinegar, this Mushroom Ragout is a respectable and satisfying meatless dish, perfect for any chilly day.
Mushroom Ragout over Cranberry Beans
2 cups dried cranberries beans (soaked in water over night)
1 carton of baby portabella mushrooms, scrubbed clean and quartered
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 carrot, peeled and largely diced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/2 can of tomato paste
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, plus more to taste
2 tsp Sherry Vinegar, plus more to taste
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups stock (I used homemade turkey stock but any stock works well here)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil for the pan
For the Ragout:
Heat a pot, or preferably a dutch oven, and add a little olive oil. Brown the mushrooms and add a generous pinch of salt. Add the celery, carrots and garlic. Heat until the vegetables have sweat a bit and then add tomato paste. String constantly, combine the paste with the vegetables and then add the stock. Stir until everything is well incorporated. Add another generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the herbs, sherry vinegar and Worcestershire Sauce. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and simmer for about 2-3 hours. Season with salt and pepper and I like to finish with a splash of vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Serve over cranberry beans (recipe follows).
For the Cranberry Beans:
Soak the dried beans in a large bowl of water overnight. Drain beans and add them to a heated skillet. Cover with water and salt generously. Add a sprig of rosemary to the pot and simmer the beans until they are softened. You may need to replenish water a couple of times if it gets absorbed. Drain beans if you have excess water left behind once they are done cooking.
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