White Bean & Sausage Stew in Pumpkins

This is a fantastic stew to serve for a meal like Thanksgiving or another rustic, but celebratory dinner. There are many versions of this recipe in existence, but this is a recipe customized from the one in the October 2006 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Ingredients

4 cans of navy beans, drained

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoons thyme

5 cups of chicken stock

1 onion, diced

4  2-pound-each sugar pumpkins

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper

3 tablespoons butter

1 pound uncased mild Italian sausage, chopped

5-6 potatoes, diced

4 carrots, diced

2 leeks, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1/4 cup flour

2 tablespoons sage

Instructions

1.) Prepare the pumpkins. Cut out the tops and remove the seeds and excess pulp. Rub insides with oil, salt and pepper. Place pumpkins and tops right side up on an oiled baking sheet right side up and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove tops from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. Turn pumpkins upside down on the baking sheet and bake an additional 25 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.

2.) While the pumpkins are baking, prepare the stew. Brown the sausage in 1 tablespoon of the butter. Then add remaining butter, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, and potatoes and cook another 10-15 minutes.

3.) Stir in flour to form a roux. Slowly add in chicken stock. Add beans, sage, thyme and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.

4.) Divide stew among the pumpkin shells. Bake in the 350 degree oven the pumpkins are just soft, about 15 minutes. Garnish with tops.

This stew makes a great first course to a Thanksgiving meal of an herb-crusted turkey or turkey breast, chestnut stuffing, green beans with garlic and bacon, crusty French bread, creamy mashed potatoes and home made egg noodles. Don’t forget the pumpkin pie and cider for dessert!

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