Franks & Beans And Mix & Match Cornbread

When I saw this "Frank's & Bean's" recipe in Bon Appetit Magazine, I was looking for a dish to clean up some leftover canned goods and this seemed to fit the bill.  I had a pack of hot Italian sausages in the freezer, a couple of cans of white kidney beans, and thought, why not?  I am so glad I tried it out because this will definitely be a go-to meal for us in our home.  It was a deliciously comforting dinner and I can't wait to make it again.

As for the cornbread, I just about died when I saw a feature in a recent Food Network Magazine called "Mix & Match Cornbread".  How genius!  They provide a list of mix-ins, cheeses, a basic batter recipe, seasoning choices, and then baking instructions.  Brilliant!  I can make a different cornbread every time and it will always come out perfect!!

Franks & Beans
1 onion chopped
6 garlic chopped
6 Italian sausages (I used hot)
2 cans white kidney beans (rinsed & drained)
1 c white wine (I didn't have any so I used beef broth)
10 parsley stems
10 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2c chicken brother (I used beef)
1 T butter
1 T flour
3 T chopped fresh herbs (oregano, parsley, tarragon, etc)
salt & pepper

Heat 2 T oil in a large pot over medium.  Add onion & garlic and cook until softened, 8 minutes.  Remove and discard the casings from 2 sausages; add to pot.  Cook, breaking up with a spoon until sausages and onions are lightly browned, 5 minutes.  Add beans & wine to pot & cook until wine is reduced by half, 8-10 minutes.  Using twine, tie parsley & thyme into a bundle, add to pot along with bay leaves & broth.  Cook on medium-low heat, partially covered & stirring often until liquid thickens, 45-50 minutes.  Mix butter with flour to form a paste and stir into bean mixture along with 2T of chopped herbs.  Meanwhile, after the beans have been cooking 25 minutes, heat remaining 1T oil in large skillet over medium heat and cook remaining sausages, turning, until browned and cooked through, 15-20 minutes (I baked mine in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes).  Slice the sausages.  Divide the bean mixture among bowls and top with sausage slices & remaining 1T chopped herbs.

Now here is the kicker...I'm telling you once you make this cornbread you will never use another recipe again.  It was so moist and delicious, I couldn't believe it.  For my mix-in I used chopped bacon.  For my cheese I used old cheddar.  For my seasoning I used chopped jalapenos.  So good!!!

Mix & Match Cornbread

1. Prep your mix-ins - choose up to 3 of the following, 1/2c each:
  • chopped scallions
  • broccoli florets blanched & chopped
  • dried fruit chopped
  • zucchini grated & sprinkled with salt
  • unsalted nuts chopped
  • carrots grated & sprinkled with salt
  • onions chopped & sauteed
  • canned hominy, drained
  • kale chopped & sauteed
  • chopped tomato
  • corn kernels
  • bacon or pancetta cooked & crumbled
  • sausage cooked & crumbled
2. Choose a cheese - grate or crumble 1/2c (optional):
  • gruyere
  • cheddar
  • pepper jack
  • mozzarella
  • fontina
  • parmesan
  • goat
  • havarti
  • swiss
  • gouda
3. Make the batter:
Preheat oven to 400.  Grease 9" square baking dish.  Whisk 1/2c cornmeal, 1/4c flour, 2T sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt in large bowl.  In a separate bowl whisk 1 egg, 1c milk, 1c sour cream or plain greek yogurt (I used fat free Astro yogurt), & 2T melted butter.  Whisk into the dry ingredients until combined.  Fold in the prepared mix-ins and cheese.

4. Add seasonings - stir in 1 of the following (optional):
  • 1/4c chopped fresh parsley, basil, chives, cilantro, or a combination of all
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, sage or rosemary, or a combination of all
  • 1 minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 minced jalapeno
5. Bake the bread
Pour into prepared dish.  Bake until it springs back when pressed in the center, 25-35 minutes.  Let cool 15 minutes in a dish then loosen edges and slice.

I can't say enough about how moist this bread was.  I can't wait to try it again and again with various combinations.