8 cups of dried white beans
½ pound of thick cut bacon or slab bacon cut into pieces
2 large onions, diced
2 Large carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
12 heads of garlic, roasted and squeezed
10 cups of light bodied beer
For the herb sachet (bag):
3 bay leaves
1 bunch of herbs of your choice
Peel of 1 orange
1. Soak the white beans overnight. Use lots of water (three times the dried beans and soak them in the refrigerator.
2. Put the bacon pieces in a casserole pot and brown on medium low heat.
3. Once bacon is brown and a little crispy add the onions, carrots and celery
4. Add a little salt and pepper at this point and add a little olive oil if needed. (The bacon usually gives up enough fat on its own)
5. Sweat the vegetables on medium low until the they start to turn translucent
6. Add the garlic and stir it in to break up the cloves and make a paste
7. Add the beer, let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat.
8. Strain the beans, discard the water, and put the beans in the casserole.
9. Cover the beans with chicken stock to about an inch and a half above the beans.
10. Turn up the heat until casserole starts to simmer then reduce the heat to keep it at a simmer
11. Make the herb pouch by putting some herbs, the bay leaves and the orange peel in some cheesecloth and tying it up to make a pouch and tie it off with some twine. Drop this in the casserole. (This gets removed when the casserole is taken off the stove and cooled)
12. Now start to slowly add salt and pepper to the casserole while you are simmering and stirring. The trick here is that the beans will keep absorbing liquid and salt as they cook. So I constantly stir and add more stock so that the level stays an inch or so above the beans. As I am stirring I taste the broth and keep adjusting the seasonings as I go.
13. Stop the casserole when the beans are soft and have no more crunch to them and cool the casserole quickly. Cool it below 41 degrees within 2 to 3 hours to be safe. (We use an ice bath for this)
When we serve this at the restaurant we will then put this in a small serving size casserole dish. Put a pheasant breast and some garlic sausage on top of the casserole with a few bread crumbs. We then roast this in a 500 degree oven until the pheasant is cooked all the way through and serve it. So the casserole is a little roasted on top and soft and rich on the bottom.
We make our own bacon and sausage for this. I like to use garlic sausage and a garlic bacon recipe in this dish. However, that is because we tasted the beer and that was the flavors that went best with it. Use any kind of sausage, bacon, poultry or pork with this if you want to. It's a casserole! Have fun and mix it up. Use the beer in the casserole that you are going to pair with it and voila! It will match very well.
Also a note on hops. When cooking with a beer that has a lot of hops be careful. The hops tend to get more and more bitter the more you cook them. So if you are using a hoppy beer like we did, balance the bitterness with some sweetness. That's why the garlic is roasted in this particular recipe, it balanced the hops in the beer.
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