On the cusp of October, hearty sausage and beans

By Jim Bailey

Oktoberfest began as a celebration of the marriage of the German prince in 1810, but is now the world’s  largest fair. The first festivities that honored this marriage centered around a section of Munich, now referred to as Weis’n, but has since spread around the world.

The consumption of beer is only eclipsed by the enjoyment of food relevant to Germany. Dishes such as schweinebraten (slow roasted pork with beer and onions) and steckerlfisch (heavily seasoned whole fish barbecued over an open fire) are popular but not nearly consumed in the quantity as good ol’ sausage. Although we here in New England enjoy our great multi-cultural heritage of varied fare, German sausage just hasn’t grabbed hold.
So to give Oktoberfest a Yankee flair, let me give you one of my favorite German sausage recipes, without added beer by the way. So grab a stein of Spaten Oktoberfest and celebrate alongside your German friends and neighbors.

White beans and sausage

White beans and cheddarwurst

By all means, use chorizo, sweet or hot Italian sausage, kielbasa or bratwurst in place of the cheddarwurst. As for the beans, you can substitute fava, cannellini, navy or yellow eyed, whichever white bean you prefer. This recipe also is great cooked in a crock pot.

1 lb. dried navy beans, soaked overnight
1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
1 onion, minced
2 t. minced garlic in oil
Bay leaf
Olive oil
1 lb. precooked cheddarwurst sausage links or sliced sausages
1/2 t. red pepper flakes, or more to taste
3 1/2 c. chicken broth, and more if needed
Salt and pepper to taste
3 T. tomato paste

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until the fat has rendered and the meaty bits are crisp, about three to four minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels. Add the sausage to the bacon drippings and sear until lightly browned, five to seven minutes. Transfer sausage to paper towels.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of fat from the pot or – if the pot is dry — drizzle in some oil. Add the onion and bay leaf and saute, stirring frequently, until the onion is deeply golden brown; adjust the heat as necessary to prevent the onions from burning. Add the garlic and cheddarwurst, cook for three minutes longer, turning sausages to brown slightly. Drain the beans and dump them into the pot, along with the sausage and red pepper flakes and 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender. Begin checking at 45 minutes, but it may take as long as 1 1/2 hours, depending on your beans. Add more chicken broth if needed. Fish out and toss the bay leaf. Stir in the tomato paste and bacon and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken the cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the beans sit uncovered for 10 minutes to absorb any excess liquid.

And that, my friends, is abendessen.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at theyankeechef@aol.com.

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