Friday, March 31, 2017

Beanie Weenies

My life has been entirely too hectic recently. Besides my day job, my various writing jobs, a time-consuming gig as a book editor/designer, and media dinners, we've had to run back and forth to a local nursing facility to visit my Dad, who's been an in-patient for physical and occupational therapy. Normally I get to do quite a bit of cooking on the weekend, but recently I've had to resort to making things that were fast because time was short. One-pot meals are ideal.

One particular weekend, we had a relatively quick chicken dish that yielded a decent amount of leftovers. My suggestion of chicken pot pie with a puff pastry crust was met with a non-committal shrug from Mr Minx. I realized he doesn't particularly like pot pie (a sentiment I do not quite understand, as he likes both stew and pie) so switched gears. I found two cans of cannellini beans in the cupboard, and remembered that we still had a package of Hofmann German Brand Frankfurters in the freezer. Beans and Franks it was!

I recall that beans and franks was a favorite fast dinner in my house when I was a teenager. Mom would cook some onions, add two cans of Big John beans and sliced Esskay franks and we'd devour it with white bread (one of the few times we'd eat white bread untoasted). Big John beans are pretty sweet, but everyone in my family has a sweet tooth. Mr Minx does, too, but he's not a fan of sweet entrees. Keeping that in mind, I toned down the sweetness of the beans quite a bit. If you are a fan of sweeter beans, then by all means, add more brown sugar and/or ketchup. I think it's one of those recipes that's easily customizable--just add more or less of any of the ingredients to taste. Want spicy beans? Add more hot sauce. Want tangier beans? Add more vinegar and mustard. Hate marjoram--leave it out. (I only used it because I happened to have a bunch of fresh marjoram in the fridge left over from another dish.) Don't have sundried tomatoes? Use more tomato paste. No salami? Leave it out. You get the drift. In other words, the recipe below is a loose guideline.

Beanie Weenies

1 tablespoon bacon grease or olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh marjoram
2 tablespoons 'nduja or other salami, minced if hard salami
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, rehydrated in boiling water for 15 minutes, chopped
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce, or to taste
Splash Worcestershire sauce
Pinch smoked paprika
1 cup chicken stock
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (use Navy beans if you prefer smaller beans)
4 hot dogs, sliced on the bias

Melt the bacon grease (if solid out of the fridge, like mine was) in a 3-quart saucepan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to turn golden, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the marjoram, 'nduja or salami, and tomatoes and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly, until the mixture is pasty. Add the ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and stock and bring to a boil. Add the beans and bring back to the boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until beans are tender, 30-35 minutes. Add the sliced hot dogs and cook until warmed through.

Serve with buttered bread, if desired.

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