2 cups Spagna beans or cannellini beans
1 head garlic, split, plus 8 cloves garlic, sliced
1 stalk celery
1 russet potato, peeled
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 heads Treviso radicchio, sliced
12 slices spicy braised bacon, plus some of the braising liquid (recipe below)
Cooking the beans is a 2-day process. Soak the beans in enough water to cover them overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, strain and rinse the beans. Place them in a pot large enough to cover with 6 cups of water and add the split head of garlic, the carrot, celery, and potato. The peeled potato will soften the skin on the beans so that they don't burst when they are cooking. Cook over low heat for about 2 hours, until tender. Remove from the heat, then remove the vegetables and discard them. Season the beans with salt and black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
Transfer to the beans to a clean pot and slowly warm them over medium-low heat. Heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add the sliced garlic. Once the garlic becomes aromatic, add the radicchio. Cook until wilted, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes.
Divide the beans among 6 warm bowls, then place several slices of the braised bacon in each bowl and spoon some warm braising liquid over the top. Drape the radicchio over the bacon, drizzle olive oil on top, and serve.
NOTES: Spagna beans are Italian beans with long, green, slightly curved broad pods containing 5 to 6 large white beans. They are sometimes called butter beans. The Spagna beans here require two days of preparation, so be sure to plan ahead. You can use cannellini beans if Spagna beans are hard to find.
Treviso is one type of radicchio. It is red in color, with an elongated shape similar to endive, and it has a slightly bitter flavor. You may substitute it with any radicchio available in your market.
Spicy Braised Bacon
makes two pounds
1 meaty boneless pork belly (about 2 lb.), skinned
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon crushed red chili flakes
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
vegetable oil, for sauteing
1 medium white onion, coarsely chopped
1 fennel head, quartered
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
a few sprigs of rosemary
a few springs of thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cups San Marzano (plum) tomatoes
2 cups white wine
2 gallons pork or beef stock
Portion the pork belly into 6 equal-size pieces. In a spice grinder, combine the black pepper, chili flakes, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds and finely grind them. Season the pork belly with salt, then rub with the spice rub. Let it marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, carrot, celery, rosemary sprigs, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves and saute for about 20 minutes. Once the vegetables are caramelized, add the tomatoes, cook for 25 minutes, then deglaze with the white wine. Once the liquid is reduced by three-quarters, add the pork or beef stock and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes.
While the vegetables are cooking, prepare a grill to cook over direct high heat. Grill the pork belly until it begins to render some of its fat and becomes dark golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, and turn and repeat.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Stir the vegetables well and then strain the braising liquid into a bowl; discard the vegetables. Transfer the pork belly to a nonreactive ovenproof pan and cover it with the reserved braising liquid. Bake until tender, about 2 hours and 30 minutes.
NOTE: Tightly sealed cured bacon keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Spicy Braised Bacon recipe courtesy of: Chef/Owner Chris Cosentino, Boccalone, Boccalone Salumeria, Ferry Building Marketplace, Shop #21, San Francisco, California 94111 | I Love Bacon! by Jayne Rockmill, p. 4. Andrew McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2010
main recipe courtesy of: Chris Cosentino, Incanto, 1550 Church Street, San Francisco, California 94131, 415-641-4500 | I Love Bacon! by Jayne Rockmill, p. 4. Andrew McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2010