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Andrew Bird-Pulaski at Night
 
This week in New York, the temperature dropped below freezing. With the wind chill it was frigid. When I asked Jeff Held our Chef if he had biked to work on a morning speckled with snow flakes, he looked at me with disappointment and answered, “you didn’t?” So, I did the following day. Upon arrival, I wasn’t sure if my face would ever defrost. It is on days like these that warm, wholesome stews are an imperative. Growing up in New York, I never asked for the first days of winter to hit, but I knew it meant my grandmother’s goulash was around the corner. That, and my mother’s butternut squash soup kept me going through the winter months. Now that I am old enough to cook on my own, I’ve found catharsis in chopping vegetables and waiting for them to stew.
 
Finding Swiss Chard to be the best looking vegetable in the local market, I picked up a couple bundles to use as the main ingredient for both my stew. I added the usual suspects–carrots, shallots & celery–to my shopping list. Then a can of white butter beans, a clove of garlic, tomato puree, white wine and fresh herbs to complete. After throwing it all together, I waited while it simmered. Days later, tense with chills of a morning bike ride, I reheated my stew and with the first bite, my face began to regain feeling.
 


 
Butter Bean & Swiss Chard Stew
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
 
Ingredients:
2 bundles Swiss chard, cleaned, stems and ribs removed and reserved for stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup carrots, peeled & chopped (reserve peels for stock)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup shallots,chopped (reserve skins for stock)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 15-ounce cans (or about 3 3/4 cups) white butter beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth (see instructions below for homemade stock)
1 cup pureed tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 lemon
1 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated
2 slices Toasted Bread
 
Directions:
1. To Make Vegetable Stock: Place reserved chard, carrot and shallot peelings and any other excess vegetables you have laying around the house into a pot of highly salted water. Add slices of one lemon and bring to a boil. Leave on a low heat for at least an hour.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch Chard in the water for just over a minute, to tenderize. Drain and chop coarsely.
3. In a medium pot, heat oil over a medium heat. Add Carrots, Shallots, Celery and garlic. Sauté until shallots are translucent, but not brown. About 15 minutes stirring constantly.
4. Add wine, bring to a boil until the liquid reduces by three-fourths. Make sure to scrape any brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
5. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, a few pinches of salt, freshly ground black pepper, thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.
6. Add Chard, cook for 5 more minutes.
7. Remove Bay leaf & thyme.
8. Place in a bowl and top with Pecorino. Toast bread for dipping.
9. Refrigerate what you don’t finish and eat for days after.
10. While you eat, Check out this new video from The Shadowboxers, covering one of my new favorite bands, Haim:

 
 

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