THE RETURN OF (a stew-themed) HOME MOVIES
Home Movies Tuesday
Hello and welcome to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:
Hello and THANK YOU for your patience as we took a little break from Content Creation during the month of January. I like to think of it as Dry January, except I kept drinking but just didn’t publish any content. The content is the alcohol. Are you following? Anyway, I am in the middle of finishing a cookbook (what can I tell you about it? It's a dessert book, it’s called Sweet Enough and it comes out NEXT SPRING which is simply too far away for my liking), working on making this new show and doing a few other things that I can’t wait to (eventually) share with you. All of which to say: So many good things to come, and thank you for graciously understanding my need to step away!
FWIW, we are now back with regular-scheduled programming, where you can expect a new Home Movie every other Tuesday, a new newsletter every Thursday, and the occasional bonus Chef’s Kiss advice column peppered into the mix. Thank you to all subscribers, especially the paid ones– a reminder you have access to all back issues as well as all future letters!
As for this week , due to popular demand, our first video back is the darling of January (a low bar lol): Dilly Bean Stew with Frizzled Onions and Cabbage. It’s always exciting when it feels like *everyone* is making something, and really, everyone made this stew. While every bowl I’ve seen looks perfect/10/10/no notes, I will say that some of you aren’t taking your onions far enough and it shows! Thank god we made this video, to properly dissect caramelized, fried and frizzled.
Thank you for reading/watching/subscribing– see you later this week!
The year is twenty twenty stew and it’s, yet again, a weird one! I’m sure it can’t just be me, but January felt like it was approximately 4 months long, but this stew recipe was one of the true saving graces of the month that would never end. Even as someone who counts the humble ingredients in my top favorite foods, I didn’t expect to crave it on a weekly basis. The crispy frizzled onions (chef’s treat alert!), the tender white beans, the cabbage, the ❤️dill❤️, the tangy vinegar, the little pat of butter I always top my bowl with–I feel kind of emotional just thinking about it. It’s beautifully beige, it’s deeply comforting, and it’s my main food group for the rest of the winter.
And folks: It’s a popular one! At least half of the people I follow on Instagram have made it, you’ve probably made it, I made it twice in 24 hours a few weeks ago, my mom is currently making it for the third time as I write this (she wanted you to know that), David Cho made it Sunday and Alison’s dad made it last week, which is to say: truly everyone is making it. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend stocking up on your favorite white beans before we run into another stew-fueled shortage.
I love this stew exactly how she is, in all her beige, dilly glory. While optional, I find the little pat of butter I finish mine off with to bring me true delight when I need it, and think you should try it. If you want to switch things up, there are a few ways to do so (but please don’t make it without dill! it’s in the title!).
If you’ve asked a question/sent an email about this stew, please see below! A reminder you can always submit reader questions here.
Take your onions a bit further than you think– they are the secret here to a lot of the flavor. The video is helpful for determining what, exactly, a frizzle is (and the difference between “caramelized” and “fried”).
Want to make it vegan? OK, fine, leave out the butter. It will still be great.
Beth Bergen and Ariana Nguyen want to know if you can add meat or mushrooms— the answer, happy to report, is YES! Brown some sausage, bacon, pancetta or mushrooms while you’re browning the onions. Remove some for the topping (like you would with the onions), then continue as usual.
Alyssa Fazio would love to know if you can use white wine vinegar instead of distilled— you *can* but use less to start (white wine tends to be more concentrated/sweeter than white distilled, so go easy on it).
While this recipe “serves 4” I’ve heard it “serves 1 or 2” because YES it’s that good. If you find yourself with “too much stew,” know that it freezes beautifully (go ahead, make a double batch!), just leave out the dill until you’re ready to serve. Or share some with a friend or neighbor. That’s a nice thing to do!
If you want to use a different kind of cabbage, like savoy or napa, just be prepared for the fact you may need to use more of it (napa and savoy are more delicate), and we’re pleased to report purple cabbage doesn’t turn it the unappetizing color we once thought it would. If you’re wondering how to use the extra cabbage, might I suggest making… more stew?
Dilly Bean Stew with Cabbage and Frizzled Onions
As with any pantry-staple situation, the low number of deceptively modest ingredients might convince you this stew doesn’t have what it takes to be your new favorite stew– but I assure you, as a person who has had three bowls over the last two days, it does. The secret is in the treatment of the ingredients: The onions must be frizzled (somewhere between an onion that’s been caramelized and fried) for the correct depth of flavor, and the beans must be cooked and lightly crushed before any liquid is added (or your stew will forever be a soup). While most “white beans” will work, I love to mix for a variety of creaminess, texture, and flavor (tiny navy beans + large butter beans are my favorite combo).
The number of ingredients here is so limited that I really won’t be recommending any swaps or substitutions. That said, if you’d like to make this stew dairy-free/vegan, that’s totally fine. In my honest assessment here, the butter rewards those who use it, but it does not punish those who don’t.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more
1 large onion, thinly sliced
kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 15-ounce cans white beans such as navy, butter, cannellini, drained and rinsed
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or my preference, 4 cups water plus 1–2 tablespoons better than bouillon)
¼ of a head of cabbage, core removed, coarsely chopped (roughly 8–10 ounces)
1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar or fresh lemon juice (lemon juice should be last resort– white distilled vinegar really should be the thing you use here)
1 cup dill, coarsely chopped
Sour cream, if you must
1. Heat butter (if using) and olive oil in a medium pot over medium–high heat (if not using butter, add 2 more tablespoons olive oil). Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook, without stirring too much or too frequently, so they get nicely browned and frizzled over 5–8 minutes. You do not want jammy, caramelized onions, but you also do not want burnt onions, so just adjust the heat and frequency of stirring as needed.
2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer ¼ of the onions to a small bowl; set aside (for topping!).
3. Add the beans and season with salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, smash some of the beans into the pot, breaking them up to release the creamy, starchy interior (this is what will thicken your stew). I say “some of” because we are not making refried beans, nor are we making bean pureé– but we do want to have some that are more broken down than others. Think whole, tender beans swimming in a pot of creamy, broken down, lightly brothy beans.
4. Add the broth (or water + bouillon) and bring to a simmer. Simmer until the texture is to your liking (soupier, stewier, you choose) and everything is tasting nice and savory, 15–20 minutes or so. Add the cabbage and vinegar, stirring to wilt. Simmer until the cabbage is totally tender and all the flavors have melded, 10–15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and more vinegar if you like.
5. Remove from heat and stir in half the dill. Divide among bowls and top with more dill and some of those reserved frizzled onions. Give another drizzle of olive oil (or a teeny knob of softened butter, live a little) and crack of black pepper. Not that you need my permission, but if the mood strikes, sour cream is also great here.