Wednesday, November 16, 2011


1 cup dried beans, such as cannelini, flageolet, Great Northern or French navy
1 2-oz. piece of bacon, preferably applewood-smoked
1 3-inch sprig fresh rosemary
3 fresh sage leaves
1 bay leaf
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise, reserving one half for another use
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium head escarole, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)

2 1/4-inch thick strips bacon, preferably applewood-smoked, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch thick pieces
4 slices white or whole-wheat sourdough bread
1 garlic clove, peeled
approximately 1/4-pound wedge Parmigiano-Reggiano, for shaving over the tops of the sandwiches
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling on the sandwiches

FOR THE WHITE BEAN PUREE: In a medium saucepan, combine the beans, bacon, rosemary, sage leaves, bay leaf, garlic, 1 teaspoon of the balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in about 2 1/2 cups water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 2 hours, until the beans are soft and tender. Check frequently, adding water as necessary to keep the beans immersed in water.

Strain the beans, reserving the liquid. Return the liquid to the saucepan, and reduce it over high heat until you have about 1 cup of slightly thickened and opaque liquid.

Remove the herbs from the beans and discard. Remove the garlic, squeeze out the soft pulp from the cloves into the beans, and discard the garlic head and peels. Remove the bacon, cut it into small pieces, and set aside.

In a food mill set over a bowl, or a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the beans until they form a coarse puree. Add the bacon back to the beans, and pour in the reduced liquid, remaining balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, stirring to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar, to taste.

FOR THE ESCAROLE: Toss the escarole with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Let stand for 5 minutes.

Over a hot grill, char the escarole 7-8 minutes on each side, until tender. Alternatively, to char on the stovetop: Heat a heavy-duty skillet over high heat. Add the escarole, and char on one side for 7-8 minutes. Turn over and char the other side. Remove from the skillet. In either case, discard any pieces that are too blackened. Allow to cool. Cut off the root and discard it, then chop the escarole coarsely into 1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, remaining oil and salt, and pepper to taste. Add the escarole, and allow it to marinate for at least 15-30 minutes before serving.

FOR THE BACON: In a small skillet, over medium heat, cook the bacon until cooked all the way through but not crisp. Drain on a paper towel.

Grill the bread. Rub one side of each slice of bread with the garlic clove, and cut each slice in half on the diagonal. Place the slices on serving plates, garlic side up.

TO ASSEMBLE THE SANDWICHES: Pile an uneven layer of escarole over each half-slice, and scatter the bacon over it. Spoon the bean puree onto the center, leaving a 1-inch border of escarole, and top with 3 or 4 shavings of cheese. Drizzle with olive oil.

bacon recipe courtesy of: Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book: The Best Sandwiches Ever--from Thursday Nights at Campanile by Nancy Silverton, with Teri Gelber. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003, pages 48-49. Campanile, Los Angeles, California