Fagioli al Fiasco
This recipe employs a very old technique that is more than just a gimmick. In classic French cuisine, it's called a bain-marie, where you place a cooking vessel inside a pot or pan of hot water to provide gentle heat all around. The key to the method in this case is that it uses very little liquid so the beans retain all of their flavor. I call for a wide-mouthed wine flask, but if you can't find it, you can substitute a large mason jar, which is what we did for the photograph, or even a ceramic crock. One precaution: When you start, make sure the liquids on the outside of the flask and on the inside are both cold so that you don't crack the flask.
This is a really fun recipe and the best part, as with chicken in clay or fish in a bag, is checking out the reaction from your guests when you bring the whole flask to the table.
1 pound dried cannellini (Great Northern) beans
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 ounces pancetta, diced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 fresh Italian plum tomatoes,
peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and seeded
10 fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Soak the beans overnight in cold water with the flour. (Place the flour in the pot first then whisk as you pour in the water to avoid any possible lumps.) Drain the beans well and rinse.
Place the beans in the flask with enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add the pancetta, olive oil, whole garlic, tomatoes, and basil. Season with salt and pepper, stir well, and place the flask in a large stockpot with cold water. Cover the entire assembly loosely with aluminum foil and place the pot over medium heat and allow to simmer for 3-1/2 hours. Do not add liquid to the flask during the cooking. If you need to add water to the stockpot, add boiling water, not cold water.
When the beans are done, remove the flask from the pot, bring it to the table and serve.
The beans must he soaked overnight in advance. They really benefit from the long, slow simmering in the water bath. And you can successfully reheat them the next day, or serve them at room temperature in a salad.
David Ruggerio's Italian Kitchen:
Family Recipes from the Old Country
By David Ruggerio
Artisan, May 2000
Color photographs throughout
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created August 2000
Copyright © 1994-2017,