There was a time in my life when, in my Hedonistic response to prior poverty, that I rarely ate beans. I even asked they be omitted from my burritos at Taquerias. Ridiculous, I know. But let's be fair. Years of Lentils every day, refried beans on tortillas, and even bean spread sandwiches? It's the same type of aversion one has to Vodka after a blood poisoning bender. Beans were the main ingredient (often the ONLY ingredient) in every day life for so long, they just lost their appeal.
However, I have since rediscovered the bean. When used with the sensibility of a finer palate, (rather than the one that used stolen Taco Bell sauces to vamp up their flavour), beans take an entirely diverse and splendid role in cuisine.
For the next few weeks, I will be focusing my posts on the elegant bean. From hearty stews, to light sandwiches and salads, beans will take a centrifuge role in a series that I have coined:
The Poor Food Movement.
For the first installment, I am sharing a simple recipe that celebrates the bean as a dish unto itself.
1 cup dried Borlotti beans
2 oz Pancetta, diced
1 onion, quartered
1 Bay leaf
3 or 4 whole cloves of garlic
7 cups water, or broth of choice
sprig of rosemary
Soak beans overnight. Rinse and drain and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, cook pancetta until beginning to crisp, and fat is rendered. Add onion and garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add beans, water or broth, Bay leaf, some olive oil, and sea salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about two hours, until beans are tender. During the last 30 minutes, add rosemary. When tender, remove onion, rosemary, and garlic. Mash about 1/3 of the beans and adjust salt to taste.
This is great over Ciabatta toasts, served alone, as a side dish, or when doubled, as a requisite to tomorrow's post, Tuscan Country Bean Soup.