Getting Colder Outside, Make a Hearty Vegetable Garbure!

Your first question is what the heck is a vegetable garbure?  Short answer: a ham and vegetable French peasantry stew.  Long answer: a French stew I found in Ruhlman’s Twenty which enabled me to use up the bacon rind I’ve been saving in the freezer from the last time I made bacon.  Doesn’t it always seem like the peasant dishes you find turn out to be intensely hearty and sustaining?  This is what makes them really good for fall and winter.  They’re typically dishes which use scraps and leftovers, are simmered for hours, and develop intense flavors.  Vegetable garbure is one of those peasant dishes I’m adding to the rotation whenever I cure some bacon.

I made this right after we came back from our trip to Edinburgh/Amsterdam/Newcastle.  We couldn’t wait for a good home cooked meal after being away for 10 days.  I know, poor us!  Initially I wanted to make some ravioli but I decided the jet lag would win so opted for something more simple which I could just put on the stove and not have to watch.  Stew.  The recipe for Winter Vegetable Garbure called for vegetables and bacon rind.  I had the bacon rind so it was just a matter of going to the store and getting the vegetables.  Easy.

This turned out really well.  As you can imagine there’s a really good bacony/pork flavor in it.  No bacon rind?  Improvise a bit.  A garbure is supposed to have some bacon or ham in it so I guess you can just add some.  Don’t let lack of bacon rind scare you away from this delicious, hearty, bone-warming stew!  And yes, like most stews and soups, this vegetable garbure is even better the next day.

Winter Vegetable Garbure (from Michael Ruhlman’s Twenty)

  • 2 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise and cleaned, white parts sliced; keep the dark green ends
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2-4 shallots, diced
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 piece of bacon rind large enough to cover the bottom of the pot
  • 8 C water
  • 4 celery stalks (2 whole, 2 chopped)
  • 4 carrots (2 whole, 2 chopped)
  • 1 lb cabbage leaves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 2 potatoes peeled and diced in large pieces
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
  • 1 ½ Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • Salt

Over medium high heat in a large heavy bottomed pot melt the butter.   Add the sliced leeks, onions, shallots, and garlic.  Season with salt and cook until soft, about 5 mins.

Reduce heat to low and place bacon rind on top of vegetable mix.  Cover and cook for 1 hour but do not let vegetables brown.

Add the water.  Tie the saved dark green ends of the leeks together in a bundle and add to the pot together with the whole carrots and celery, tomato paste and bay leaves.  Turn the heat up to medium high and bring to a simmer.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for an hour.

After an hour remove the leak tops, whole carrots, whole celery, bay leaves, and bacon rind.  Taste and season with salt if needed.  Add the potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the cayenne, add the chopped carrots, celery, and cabbage.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in the fish sauce and red wine vinegar.  Garnish with some chives or parsley and serve.

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