Friday, February 29, 2008

White Beans and Potato Cakes

Sometimes when I write stuff in here I wonder if people who aren't from...the South...look at my food like I look at Andrew Zimmerman.

Weird stuff. But if you're from here, this just makes sense.

Last night we had pork chops, greens, mashed potatoes and cornbread. The leftovers include (barely, The Nice Kid is all ABOUT some mashed potatoes) mashed potatoes and greens. The greens would be half collard and half mustard, since that's what caught my eye in the grocery store yesterday. So we're cleaning up the kitchen last night and I scrape the potatoes into a container and announce, "Tomorrow night we'll have potato cakes." And TNK asks what potato cakes are and I tell's what poor people do with leftover mashed potatoes.

Needless to say, this set off an uproar. After I calmed everyone down and explained that no, we're not poor (but truthfully, poorer than we would be if George W had never been elected) and that some of the best food on the planet is traditionally the food of poor people...we moved on to supper for tonight.

White Bean Soup

I have a cousin who married a German, and the first time he ever served White Bean Soup we all looked at each other's just white beans. He uses a different meat. But this recipe came from about three recipes...adapted and adjusted to fit what we eat and what's in the refrigerator.

1 bag white beans
Bacon grease...or olive oil if you must
1 onion, chopped
16 ounces smoked sausage
Chicken broth or water
Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
Bay leaves
1 bag or two cans (drained) turnip greens

Pour the white beans into a large stockpot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let the beans soak in the water for at least one hour. Drain them (this removes a lot of the gas-forming things), return them to the stockpot and cover with water/broth. Bring to a boil again, reduce heat and leave them to simmer. (I can't seem to keep chicken broth on hand, so bouillon cubes are my friends.)

In another pan melt the bacon grease or heat the olive oil, and saute the onion until tender. Add the sliced sausage (this can be smoked, polska keilbasa or...because this is what was in the freezer last night...andouille) and saute until the flavors make friends.

Add the sausage, onions, and greens to the white beans. Add everything else, stir and cover. Here's where you can get creative...per the following recipe fresh thyme is nice. Sage would work. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender. Serve with cornbread and...

Potato Cakes
For every cup of leftover mashed potatoes, add 1/4 cup self-rising flour, one egg and 1 tablespoon diced onion. Stir to combine and season to taste...salt and pepper, Emeril's, Zatarains, whatever cranks your tractor. Fresh thyme is good, especially if you throw some into the soup. Heat some oil in a it's bacon grease and cast iron...and drop the batter into the hot grease by heaping tablespoon fulls. Tablespoons full. Tablespoons-full. Don't mash the cakes down yet...when the first side browns turn the cakes over and THEN pat them down with a spatula.

This is so feel-good it's probably a sin. Damn good thing I'm Methodist.


City Girl said...

I made soup very similar to this for New Years but used black eyed peas in place of the white beans and ham scraps in place of the sausage. Everything else was basically the same, and it was VERY good!

It also fulfilled the B'eyed Pea / Greens / Ham consumption requirement of the new year.

Country Girl said...

A post-dinner comment here...the potato cakes never made it to the table. As is so often the case here, we got all out of whack on time and homework and showers and such and The Big Boy was late getting home so...the Little Kids ate all the potato cakes. In passing.