Peasant Stew

I have been fascinated by all of the heritage recipes that the lower class made to feed their families.  I am further fascinated by how they would create the majority of these dishes out of leftover cuts and smoked meats to flavor water blended with seasonal vegetables.  These were the inspirations for this recipe, and it will definitely feed the masses as I figure you will get at least 20, hearty servings - you will need a huge stock pot, at least 16 qt.  Married with a loaf of crusty bread to sop up the thick broth - I see this as perfect for a relaxed weekend away from the stove as I would make this a day before so the flavors have a day to muddle.

This stew is packed with every type of pork you can imagine as well as beef.  Ribs, ham, shank, kielbasa and skirt steak provide the flavor to create an amazing broth that slow cooks and makes the vegetable tender and delicious.  The cost to purchase all of the supplies for this stew will be around $65, and will come to around $3.25 a serving.  I suggest you use dried beans here as canned will become too soft during the cooking process here.  You can quickly cook them in a pressure cooker in 20 minutes.

1 lb. dried Great Northern beans, pressure cooked (see NOTE) OR soaked in water overnight
2 lb. rack of baby back pork ribs, 1- rib sections
1-1.5 lb ham steak with bone in
1 1-1.5 lb. smoked ham shank
1 1-1.5 lb ring kielbasa, sliced into 1" thick coins - browned
1 1-1.5 lb Porterhouse steak, cut into four pieces with bone
1/2 lb.thick bacon, chopped and browned
18 cups chicken stock
2 lbs - 5-6 leeks, sliced in 1/2" coins
3 lbs. yukon gold potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered
1 lb. kale leaves, coarsely chopped

NOTE:  I pressure cook my dried beans to speed up the reconstitution process.  1 lb. beans, 8 cups water, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Set your Cuisinart Electronic Pressure cooker on high pressure for 20 minutes and then allow it to naturally de-pressure itself.  If beans are not tender enough for you, set to simmer and simmer until desired done-ness.

In a stock pot over medium high heat place 2 tbsp. olive oil and place chopped bacon in, brownig it.  Use a slotted spoon to remove and place into a large bowl.  Then place ribs in a single layer to brown, turning to get both sides well-browned then place into bowl with bacon.  Repeat until all ribs are browned.  Add kielbasa pieces and brown, placing that into bowl with meat when done - followed by browning the ham and steak, placing meats into bowl.

Put kale, leeks and potatoes into stockpot, then layer with meats and finish off with beans (with their liquid) and chicken stock.  Bring to low simmer and cook for three hours.  Allow to cool to room temperature, cover and place into refrigerator to chill overnight.  Remove from refrigerator and skim fat off top, then allow to come to room temperature when desired and bring to simmer on stove.  Serve with loaves of crusty bread.

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