Slow-Cooker Onion, Leek and Potato Stew with Sausage

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So this all started from a post I made on my personal Facebook page. Technically this isn’t “Southern Cuisine,” but I had so many people request the recipe I figured the best place to put it would be here.

I made this in a 6.5 quart slow-cooker. If yours is smaller, you’ll probably have to adjust things down for size. Given the fullness of my particular cooker, I’d say that it would be a pretty tight squeeze to fit it all in a 5 quart.

Slow-Cooker Onion, Leek and Potato Stew with Sausage

1.5lbs Yellow Potatoes, skin on, cut into a large dice

1 Large Yellow Onion, roughly chopped

3 Leeks, tops removed, chopped

1.5lbs Cased Smoked Sausage, cut in one inch pieces

2 cups Chicken Broth

1tbsp Salted Butter (for beurre manié)

1tbsp All Purpose Flour (for beurre manié)

2 Dried Bay Leaves

1tsp Dried Thyme Leaves

1tsp Dried Parsley Flakes

1/2tsp Dried Ground Sage

1/2tsp Dried Garlic Powder

Total cook time will be 8 hours on the “low” setting. Once the prep work is out of the way the next big step will be layering the ingredients in the slow cooker and letting it do the hard work. We will have to come back twice during the cooking process. Once at the 4 hour mark to stir, and then again at 6 hour mark to add our beurre manié and stir for the last time. (Don’t know what a beurre manié is? We’ll get there.)

The layering:

Place the potatoes on the bottom, and try your best to get them all in a single layer. On top of that, add the leeks, dried herbs and dried garlic. Next go the onions, and on top of them, the sausage. Once that’s all in, pour in your chicken broth. The results should look something like this:

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Turn your slow-cooker on low, and walk away.

At the 4 hour mark, we need to stir. But only the onions, leeks and sausage. Try to leave the potatoes undisturbed on the bottom.

In the interim, lets talk about the beurre manié we’ll need in 2 hours. A beurre manié is a mixture of flour and butter that’s used to thicken soups or stews. (Think roux, but without the cooking-ahead part.) In this case, we’re actually going to treat it like any other ingredient and cook it along with the other items in the pot. So, we’ll need to give it sufficient time to cook to get any “raw flour taste” out of the finished product. To make one, combine equal parts (in this case 1tbsp each) of flour and butter until you get a dough-like paste. We’ll then take this paste and incorporate it a bit at a time into our stew just before the next stir.

I’ve included an image below to give you an idea of what a beurre manié looks like.

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Beurre manié” by Alec VuijlstekeFlickr: Beurre manié. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Once we hit the 6 hour mark, the onions and leeks will have released quite a bit of liquid (see image below,) so this will be the perfect time to add that beurre manié and let it do it’s work.

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It’s best to do this sparingly, while focusing on getting it to dissolve completely in the liquid. Take the paste and dab in a little bit at a time until you’ve got it all in. Don’t add a new piece of paste until the other has melted away. Try not to knock all of your other ingredients around too much while you’re doing all this, either. Everything has had time to soften a bit now, so stirring too vigorously could turn it all in to mush.

Once you’ve gotten all the beurre manié in, give the pot, including the potatoes, one good stir. Try to fold the potatoes out of the bottom without tearing the softer or smaller bits to pieces.

And that’s all she wrote on this one! Come back in two hours, fish out the bay leaves, and you should have a fairly thick stew that looks similar to this:

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Thanks for reading!

TST

On the Road: The Great Southern Cafe (Summer Brunch 2013)

This summer I got the opportunity to go back to one of my favorite restaurants. The Great Southern Cafe in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. This time the trip was during brunch, so my go-to favorite the “Soul Rolls” wasn’t on the menu. (See my original post about The Great Southern Cafe from 2010) but, I wasn’t deterred. I was just happy to have the opportunity to go back to a place that I thought I would probably never see again. To be quite honest, I had been thinking about it ever since I learned that we’d be going back to the Destin area for a family vacation, months before.

Maybe I was setting myself up…

This time, the trip was lackluster at best. The waitstaff was mediocre and just seemed confused about everything they were doing (never a good sign.) The food was hit-or-miss. Polling the family I got results that spanned the line from delicious to dreadful. I’m not really sure what went wrong. Maybe only the new folks work Sunday brunches, I don’t know. The overall impression I got was that no one really cared.

I really hope that this restaurant isn’t on some downward spiral. I hate it when good places go bad. I’m holding out hope that it was just an “off” day. Every place has those. Sometimes when something little goes wrong it drags everyone down with it. (Ever seen a newscaster flub up on live TV? Watch the rest of them, they’ll all start screwing up after that. It’s a domino effect.)

That being said, if I ever get the chance to go back, I’ll probably skip brunch.

The Great Southern Cafe

83 Central Square, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

850-231-7327

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Outside the restaurant

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Inside near the bar. The restaurant is only partially enclosed. The bar and half of the seating area are on a covered patio.

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Brunch menu. Summer 2013

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My son was not as excited about the restaurant as the rest of us were. Well, that and he really likes to play educational games on my wife’s phone.

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Mickey Mouse pancakes for my son. He was delighted.

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I had “The Fisherman.” Which, to be honest, was sub-standard. The fish was dry and underseasoned. The hollandaise was thin and flavorless (how can hollandaise have no taste of butter nor lemon juice?) The eggs were, well, eggs.. but the gouda grits and biscuit were delicious. I should have nosed further into the menu, but I really had a hankering for a nice piece of fish. Unfortunately they dropped the ball (even if it was a “service” menu item purely to make vacationers happy.)

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The winner of the day was my wife’s crab cake and fried green tomato benedict. It had the same bland hollandaise, but the crabcake and fried green tomatoes made up for it.




“Bulk” Canned Sausage?

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Yes. It exists.

Yes. I’ve tried it.

Yes. It looks like cat food.

Yes. It tastes EXACTLY like you think it would. (Unless you were thinking of Vienna sausages, SPAM, or canned corned beef. All of which I enjoy.)

I tried this monstrosity on a whim. I even used the starter recipe on the can to see if it would help me find this ingredient’s niche.

Won’t make that mistake twice.

I deleted my photos. Y’all don’t want to see them. Trust me.

Anyways, if I missed the boat here, let me know in the comments. I’ll be brave and try this again if someone can give me direction.

Snapshots From Summer

Here’s a few snapshots from this summer. No photoshopping, fancy angles, or tilt-shifts. Just snippets that were documented for the sake of minutiae.

20120930-232637.jpgMuscadines

20120930-232756.jpgIrish, Red, and Yukon Gold potatoes

20120930-232838.jpgMy Uncle and son sitting on one of the tractors

20120930-232907.jpgParadicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes pepper. Also called the “Hungarian Pumpkin Pepper.”

20120930-232923.jpg“Exotic” peppers for this season. Pasilla Bajio, Paradicsom Alaku Sarga Szentes, Shishito & Friariello Di Napoli

20120930-232939.jpg“Family-sized” sweet potato.

20120930-232954.jpgA beautiful flower that I have no clue how to identify.

20120930-233011.jpgMore unidentified flowers. (My grandmother will kill me for not knowing what all of these flowers are.)

20120930-233105.jpgMy grandmother’s stove. Inspiration for “The Southern Table.” We were having an afternoon fish fry. My grandparents did a traditional cornmeal batter. I went with a beer batter. My grandfather and I fried the fish in the outside cooker. The hush puppies were done by my grandmother in the skillet you see here. “Why?” You may ask. She doesn’t think my grandfather or I will cook them right. So, naturally, we drew “fish-duty.”

20120930-233126.jpg My stove. Where “The Southern Table” becomes a reality. This particular morning, my son and I decided to cook breakfast while my wife slept in. He’s out of frame, to my right, in his high chair.

On the Road: Arthur Bryant’s, Kansas City

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On a trip out of town to attend the wedding of a childhood friend, my traveling companions and I decided to make a pit stop during our 13hr trek and eat at one of Kansas City’s most famous landmarks.

…Well, that’s not exactly the truth. The truth is about a month before we went I suggested that we stop off for Arthur Bryant’s because people keep raving about how amazing the place is, and we were driving smack dab through the city that it’s in.

Ok, more truth. I didn’t suggest. I begged. I begged like a starving dog.

Don’t judge me.

Anyways, it paid off. It’s everything that I wanted in an old-school BBQ joint. Old chairs, formica tables, meat, bread, beans, fries, pickles and sweet tea (who knew you could get sweet tea in Kansas?) We got there a little too early and subsequently the ribs weren’t ready yet, so we all settled for a combo of burnt ends, and one other item off of the menu. I went for the sausage, and was honestly a little perplexed when my lunch was passed around the corner to me. I was expecting link smoked sausage. What I got was what I initially thought was sliced pork shoulder. On closer inspection however, I discovered that I had actually gotten the sausage I ordered. Thinly sliced off of a larger roll, the sausage is smoky, peppery, and has a mild tang. Think highly smoked salami. It was wonderful. As was the pulled pork and brisket that my companions had purchased.

The star of the show, was of course, the burnt ends. Melt in your mouth, super smoky & slightly charred.

Unfortunately the picture above of my burnt ends and sausage combo just doesn’t do it justice. My original “A” shot was just a bit too blurry to post, so I had to skip it for the “B” shot.

As far as sauces go, Arthur Bryant’s sauce is world famous. Partially for tasting like no other BBQ sauce I’ve ever had. It’s, in a word, gritty. Probably a blend of liquids and dry rub. Plus there’s quite a bit of sour tang to it. Personally, I think it does the trick when being slathered on for cooking. The spices help accent the smoky flavor of the meat. It’s just not my favorite for cold-pouring on meat.

Both my companions and myself leaned toward the more “KC-like” AB Sweet Heat or AB Rich and Spicy sauce for pouring and dipping, but, to each his own.

In summary,  Arthur Bryant’s is a top-notch “worth the drive” BBQ destination. Get the burnt ends, they’re life-changing.

If I ever get to go back to KC, I’ll try to hit Oklahoma Joes or some of the other KC hotspots.

Thanks for reading!

TST