November 24, 2008

Pork and Beans

Anything is better with bacon!

How many times have your heard that?
To many of us, pork is a comfort food that is the food for all seasons.

As the chilly weather started in, I started thinking about my favorite comfort foods for fall. Besides pumpkin: pork and porcini where the next foods on the list.

Next April I will be presenting a panel on Beans with Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo, my bean guru and also music consultant ( I met Steve ages ago in Italy when he had a radio show) and with another friend Ruth Alegria, now living in Mexico City.

The last panel I did was on Pork with Kate Hill and our Pork guru Fergus Henderson of St John Restaurant in London. In researching for the presentation, Kate and I created our own Whole Hog Blog.

It only seemed appropriate to continue on blogging and getting some ideas from fellow bloggers. So join us for our Pork and Beans over at the Whole Hog Blog.
Post a recipe on your blog and send us your link!

Link love is the best!

For my first posting, I am running behind, searching for some natural light to fotograph my recipes. I did a twist on my traditional Tuscan beans, baking them in the oven instead of cooking them stovetop. I learned this trick at one of the first restaurants I worked in in Fiesole, called La Romagnola. The owner was not a woman from Emilia Romagna as the name suggests in Italian, but rather a family. The Dad owned one of Florence's historic trattoria's on the Arno river called Da Tito, and I learned a lot from him. I used his simple technique, but increased the garlic.

Tito's oven-roasted beans

Roasting in the oven frees you from watching the pot cook and allows you to relax!
I use a large lasagna pan, but a nice clay pot would be fabulous or a dutch oven.
I prefer to cook these beans before I really need them, as I think they are much better the next day

The recipe is an idea, can be doubled no problem.Beans will double in volume when cooked. If needed, more water can be added. I like to have the rich garlicy broth for soups.

2 cups cannellini beans, rinsed
4-6 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 sage branch
1 head of garlic, left whole, but with the top cut off
salt, to taste ( Italians don't like to eat a lot of garlic, save the roasted garlic and serve the cloves spread on toast for those that love garlic!)

Place all the ingredients in the pan except the salt and cook at 350 degrees until beans are tender. ( Depending on the beans can be up to 2 hours)

Stir the beans once or twice during the cooking time, approx 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.
( watch a movie on TV!) The olive oil will create a "crust" on the top layer of beans, this adds some texture, much like cassoulet, but can also dry that top layer, which is why you want to stir.

Salt the beans at the end of the cooking time.

I adore these beans as they are, the roasted garlic broth that is created is really earthy and wonderful base for soups.

Last night I simply grilled some pork ribs, glazing them at the end.

Next: Fagioli all'uccelleto, Twice cooked Beans, served with sausage.

Do send us your recipes!


  1. I love the idea of oven warms the kitchen and lets me do something else! Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Anonymous12:01 AM

    Hi Judy,
    This is my kind of recipe too. I assume you don't put any kind of cover on the beans when they're in the oven? I'm missing the sun of Sicily...see you in KC. -Linda

  3. YUM! I can't wait to try this!

  4. My husband loves beans and when we're in Italy he looks for some type of bean dish on every menu! I'm going to make him happy with these! Thanks.

  5. That sounds great, I love grilling ribs and they always come out tender.If you want more recipes or if you want to take a look at the collection of tips I have for grilling you can visit

  6. Love cassoulet...I can see tossing some grilled sausage into this at the tend too!
    And since I am the bean lover of the two of us, I can see the value in freezing servings for one.

    But: will someone answer the question about cover on or off?

  7. Austen- uncovered-- and stir to break the crust the forms a couple of times.