This hearty Black Bean Sweet Potato Stew with handfuls of kale is so locked and loaded with flavor and texture you forget how nutritious it is. Even though we’re digging in after digging out from the snow here in the Northeast, this is a feel-good dish you can feel good about anytime.
One thing I love about this stew is while there’s an all-star cast of ingredients, there’s no one standout. Black beans serve as the largest component, yet give ample room for all else to shine. While ham is included here, feel free to omit and use vegetable stock to keep the dish vegetarian.
Mirepoix vs Holy Trinity
The foundation begins with my modified marriage of the French classic mirepoix (meer-pwah), and the Cajun/Creole holy trinity. Mirepoix combines two parts onion to one part each celery and carrots. The holy trinity uses the same ratios, onion, and celery, but substitutes green bell pepper for carrots. Well, why not have a culinary collision of the traditional combinations, and include the pepper with more gusto, poblano, over the green bell?! After all, rules are made to be broken. Hopefully my kids skip this post.
Dry Sherry vs Cream Sherry
Also, I’m a huge fan of cooking with cream sherry. Dry sherry is often called for in recipes, and deservedly so; however, it falls at the less-sweet end of the sherry spectrum. I don’t portend to be a sherry expert, but this can be researched easily. Click here to learn more. Cream sherry does its job perfectly in this stew to balance the bold, savory, earthy flavors.
If you’re looking for a tasty appetizer to get the crowd warmed up before the main black bean stew event, try our make-ahead Cheddar and Sun-Dried Tomato Tidbits. Hope you enjoy!!
- 1 lb dried black beans
- 1 lb ham, cut into ¾-inch cubes
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 3 celery stalks, chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 poblano pepper, chopped (about ¾ cup)
- 5 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 cup cream sherry (such as Harveys Bristol Cream)
- 8 cups broth (ham, chicken, or vegetable)
- 1 large bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes, cut into ¾-inch cubes (2 medium)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 ½ teaspoons dried
- 6 ounces kale, chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Thinly sliced green onions, for garnish
Place beans in a large pot, and cover by 2 inches with water. Bring to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 1 hour (go walk the dog and/or take a shower). Drain and rinse. Transfer to large bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)
In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add ham, and brown 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ham should caramelize on edges. Transfer to medium bowl. Cover with foil.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to same pot, toss in onion, celery, carrots, and poblano. Sauté 7-8 minutes, until softened and golden, stirring occasionally and scraping up brownings from ham. Add garlic, cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the sherry, let simmer and reduce by half, 5 minutes at most. Stir in beans, broth, bay leaf, and cumin. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer. Let simmer uncovered 1 hour, stirring occasionally (just enough so nothing sticks to the bottom). Add sweet potatoes and thyme. Cover and continue to simmer 20-30 minutes until sweet potatoes are fork tender and beans are soft. Add ham back to stew. Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf. (Can be made 1 day ahead at this point. Let cool, cover and chill. Rewarm over medium-low heat before continuing.)
Stir kale into hot stew so it wilts. Add lime juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with green onion. Serve hot.
Omit the ham to stay vegetarian
2 hours of Cooking Time is Inactive
* Recipe generously adapted from several sources