Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Baseball bat stew

Anyone who has grown more than a couple of zucchini plants knows that the squashes can grow surprisingly fast after a rain, and that some of them are extraordinarily clever at camouflage. As a result it's a rare year when you don't have to harvest at least a couple of two foot long six inch in diameter monsters. Most folks throw these on the mulch heap, and I usually do that too, but I've always hated doing that, which is why I invented baseball bat stew, not that I've ever called it that before.

Mom used to very occasionally make a somewhat similar stew but she used little meatballs that she would mix and painstakingly roll by hand, and she used regular sized zucchinis which meant she had to carefully gauge the cooking time or they would turn to mush. She also used to core out peeled medium sized zucchinis, stuff them with meatball mixture, brown them a little and then put them into her tomato gravy to cook, but she didn't do that often which makes me think Pop probably didn't like zucchinis.

My recipe is for the lazy cook - cutting up Italian sausage into small pieces is a lot easier than making little meatballs, especially if you put it into the freezer for an hour or two before cutting it. Also, a big old squash is not going to get mushy, or at least not too mushy, no matter how long you cook it. The squash will get mushy if you freeze the resulting stew, but I actually don't mind it that way so I freeze lunch sized portions for me to eat later.

About 90 minutes of preparation time
1 very large zucchini squash or 2 pretty large ones
2 pounds of hot Italian sausage (it also works reasonably well with sweet Italian sausage)
12 or so garden tomatoes or 2 sixteen ounce cans of chopped tomatoes
2 large onions
4 or 5 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil

Cut the Italian sausage into pieces about one inch long and put it in the pot with the olive oil on medium high to saute, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile chop the onions coarsely and slice each garlic clove a few times across. Also cut the ends off the squash, peel it, cut it in half and use a soup spoon to remove the seeds and pulp around them. Then cut up the squash into one inch cubes.

Throw the onions in the pot after the meat is reasonably browned and saute them a bit, then throw the squash cubes in and stir the whole mess around to coat the squash with oil as it also sautes a bit. Then dump in the peeled, seeded and roughly chopped garden tomatoes (or the cans of chopped tomatoes. Add a level teaspoon of salt. Put the top on the pot and boil it on medium low for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Add a glass of water if it seems to be two dry after it has cooked for a half hour or so.

Having a sliced Corropolese seeded split loaf on hand is a good idea.


Anonymous said...

I make a similar recipe, except that I add basil and a little sherry; however, I've never added the sausage.

I will have to give the sausage a try.

Sully said...

anonymous - Any recipes I give should be looked at as flexible since in real life I seldom actually measure things (except salt, which I've learned to measure every time because I like things saltier than most other people.)

Basil is always a possibility if I open the spice cabinet and see it. Sherry is something I never think of unless a recipe actually calls for it. I'll have to try that.