Cast Iron Linguiça & Cannellini Stew
Emerson is a hipster’s paradise. While most college students wear UGGS with sweats to class, we wear combat boots and high waisted skirts. While most colleges have concerts with big name performers, our shows feature bands you “probably haven’t heard of.” And while the “hot guy” major at most colleges is Economics, Emerson’s got the film kids.
Though I study the subject that is just about the farthest from film of any that Emerson offers (Marketing Communication), I squirmed my way in to the inner circle of the film students. How did I do it? I started dating one of them.
Matt is a film nerd, if I’ve ever met one. He claims to have learned how to kiss from watching French movies as a kid and knows the names and works of just about every director worth noting. Seeing as he’s about to graduate, he’s hoping to join their ranks in the near future.
A “thesis” is a far cry from what Emerson students have to complete in order to graduate. Each major has a specially designed capstone project, from novel writing to musical directing. Matt was accepted into a special class that has allowed him to write, direct, and edit his own film.
Who We Were is a romantic drama about Lucy (played by Nicola Cauro) and her struggle to understand what love means to her. That is a very very simplified version of what it’s really all about, but I guess you’ll just have to check out the film when it’s ready! As the director’s (marketing major) girlfriend, it is my responsibility to shamelessly plug this sucker wherever and whenever I can. As his food blogging girlfriend though, it was also my responsibility to feed the crew.
I had never worked in craft services before, so this was a huge learning experience. Enrique Rivera, the film’s uber-talented producer, gave me a few pointers: no pizza and lots of meat. Little did he know then that we’d be shooting one of the scenes in a pizza parlor, but Otto serves only the fanciest of pizza, so exceptions were made.
Due to a rather unforgiving budget (donate here!), my menus required a bit of work, but there was one night when I had an opportunity to show off. Back before all the madness of location scouting, script editing, costume designing, equipment renting, actor rehearsing, and a million other things I get dizzy thinking about, we decided to break the ice with an amazing dinner for the film’s core crew. I must say, I set the bar high for this project.
Along with plenty of wine, I served a spring salad with warm bacon vinaigrette and linguiça and cannellini stew. Production Designer, Jenell Randall finished off the night with “Sweet Baby Jesus Cakes” which I’m still begging for her permission to share the recipe with all of you. Just think butterscotch and dates and let your imagination wander.
This stew recipe brings back fond memories of that night, which was full of energy and excitement for the upcoming weeks of filming. I can’t say I was able to serve the rest of the crew such fancy meals, but what they don’t know can’t hurt 'em.
Linguiça is a cured Portuguese sausage seasoned with garlic and paprika. As such, this recipe uses a good amount of both to make the flavors burst. In order to smooth out these bold flavors, I use cannellini beans, which create a velvety texture when mashed in the stew. And just to mix things up, I’ve infused the onions and oil with thyme for a “green” flavor. If the hint of thyme isn’t enough green for you, the sautéed spinach should do the trick.
This recipe is adapted from Bon Appetit’s “Chorizo and White Bean Stew.”
Ingredients • 1 large white onion • 5 cloves fresh garlic • 2 cups water • 1 bullion cube • 2-4 tablespoons olive oil • 1 lb. linguiça (found in most grocery stores) • 5 springs fresh thyme (stem on) • approx. 30 ounces canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed • 1 tablespoon paprika • 3 cups fresh spinach
Directions 1. Slice onions and chop garlic. For a tip on onion slicing, see below.* 2. In a small pot, boil water. Once boiling, add bullion cube, stirring occasionally. 3. In a large cast iron skillet (a regular skillet will work, too), heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. 4. Cut linguiça links into ½ inch slices and sauté in skillet until mostly cooked through, about eight minutes. Remove linguiça and set aside. 5. In the same skillet, add thyme sprigs, stem and all. Then add onion and garlic. Pour in another glug of olive oil, if skillet seems dry. Cook over medium, heat, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and almost completely opaque. 6. Add chicken broth, beans, and paprika. Once simmering, use the back of a spoon, a potato masher, or a cocktail muddler to mash about half of the beans in order to thicken sauce. Let the mixture cook for about eight minutes. 7. Add linguiça back to skillet, folding it into the stew. 8. While stew simmers on medium-low heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot. Add spinach, and cover, stirring occasionally, until almost sautéed (should it say wilted), about 1 minute. 9. Serve stew immediately, placing a heap of spinach over each helping. Note: Remove thyme sprigs before serving, if desired, or leave them in as garnish.
*Excerpt from Cooks Illustrated. Maybe I’m behind the times, but I found this very helpful. “How to Slice It: Onions: 1. Trim off both ends of onion. 2. Turn onion onto cut end and slice in half, pole to pole. 3. Peel each half, place cut-side down, and slice with grain (pole to pole).”