White Bean, Ham and Sausage Stew

White Bean, Ham and Sausage Stew
4 servings
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1 cup dried white beans
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound smoked ham, diced
1/2 cup sliced smoked sausage
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
Two 14 1/2-ounce cans chicken broth
3 cups sliced mushrooms (use white and/or a combination of wild mushrooms)

1. Soak the beans overnight, covered with water; drain.

2. In a heavy 6-quart Dutch oven or cast-iron pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring continuously, until it becomes dark brown (like chocolate), for 20 to 25 minutes. (Do not rush the process and do not stop stirring or the roux will burn.)

3. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery, salt thyme, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. Cook stirring for 5 minutes.

4. Add ham and sausage and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the ham and sausage begin to cook. Stir in the beans and garlic. Stir in the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. If the stew becomes too thick, stir in more broth (Water if you don't have broth).

5. Add the mushrooms. Cook for 30 minutes longer.