Preparation / Directions:
1. Oven roast 5 lbs. of trimmed beef stew meat. Season with salt and pepper, 2 cinnamon sticks, a handful of garlic cloves and 2 ancho chilies soaked in warm water (use the water too). Roast at 375F, 2-3 hours, until the meat is tender. Cool and refrigerate; then remove the fat that has congealed on the top.
2. Soak and cook 2 lbs. dried northern beans, adding salt after the beans are tender. Cool the beans by surrounding the pot with an ice-water bath in the sink or transferring the hot beans into shallow plastic containers. Beans are easily soured, so it is important to not put them in the refrigerator hot. It will take too long for the middle of the pot to cool.
3. Sausage: 3 lbs. hot or mild Italian sausage or a combination of the two. Prick the sausage with a fork on both sides. Roast 25 minutes at 375F. Cool the sausage and cut into three-inch chunks.
4. Finely dice 2-3 onions, 4 peeled carrots, and 6 celery stalks. Sauté until onions are clear. In a large ovenproof roasting pan, combine the defatted beef, the beans, sausage and the vegetables. Add 1 large can of tomatoes, 2 more ancho chilies that have been soaked in warm water, and enough chicken stock to make the whole mixture very wet.
Do not combine until right before you bake or the beans will absorb the moisture and the dish will be dry. Top the mixture with toasted bread crumbs and bake at 350F until the sides are bubbling, the crumbs have browned and formed a crust, and the middle of the casserole is hot.
Notes: "...cowboy stew... It was kind of an American version of cassoulet, with White beans sausage and beef and a complex heat Heaven guessed came from dried chilies. "*Recipe from REVENGE OF THE BARBEQUE QUEENS, a culinary mystery by Lou Jane Temple, with Heaven Lee, chef, Heaven Cafe. Pat Hanneman (Ed) 9/98 MasterCook