Monday, August 12, 2013

Pork And Beans, Or Carne di Maiale e Fagioli

If we had been at home in Florence, Italy last night we might have feasted on carne di maiale e fagioli. Alas, we were here in our SOG City ranchero feasting on pork and beans. Dinner was not the typical beanie weanies from a can. Nay, nay! What we consumed with gusto was what I call, Quando a Firenze Pork And Beans, or When In Florence...

This is a hearty, family meal that might be served in somebody's Tuscan home. It is quick and easy, and tastes even better the next day as a left-over if any is left over. It can feed four.

  4        tablespoons  olive oil
  3        cloves  garlic -- minced
  16      ounces  Italian sausage -- bulk or remove casings
  2        tablespoons  fresh rosemary leaves
  14.5   ounces diced tomatoes
  30      ounces cannellini beans
            sea salt -- to taste
            freshly ground black pepper -- to taste
  8        ounces angel hair pasta -- broken in half
  4        tablespoons  Parmesan cheese -- grated

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil.

Sauté the garlic until fragrant, and add the sausage and rosemary. Cook the sausage, breaking up as you go, until browned and the rosemary is a bit crispy.

Add the tomatoes to the pan and allow to simmer until liquid is slightly reduced.

In the meantime, heat the water for the pasta with a half cup or so of salt to flavor the pasta.

Add the beans, salt, and pepper to the pan with the tomatoes, let it cook together for about 15 minutes. Give it a taste before adding the salt, as it may not be needed.

Cook pasta according to the package directions, then drain.

Put pasta back in the pot, or a large bowl, and pour in the sauce. Mix thoroughly, but gently.

Serve in shallow bowls and top each with cheese to taste.

Chef's note: I am a lazy cook, so I prefer canned beans and tomatoes. Plus, this is what makes the recipe both quick and easy.

This carne di maiale e fagioli is what some might call Italian "peasant food." It is what I call delicious Italian food that doesn't cost a budget-wreaking fortune, and is a welcome departure from spaghetti and meatballs. Not that there is anything wrong with meatballs. I love a good meatball every now and again.

I served this dish last night to my bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, accompanied by a robust red wine that I got on the cheap from ABC.

And, that reminds me of some advice I received years ago from a very wise gentleman. "Jon," said Emilio Begue, "you don't have to spend a fortune to get a good bottle of wine." He continued, "Shop where the winos shop for wine. Liquor stores that can't move an unknown, but spectacular wine will cut the price dramatically just to get rid of it. Some of these winos around town drink better than the hotsy tots on Bayshore."

Mr. Begue was right. I found a fantastic Spanish rosé for a buck and a quarter a bottle. I saw that same wine five years later selling for over $10 a bottle after it gained notoriety. 

Salud, Mr. Begue. And, buon appetito to us all.