Tuscan Cannellini Beans with Shallots and Pancetta

tarry-marketSeveral weeks ago, Sheila and I enjoyed lunch at Tarry Market in Port Chester. Tarry Market is the brain-child of Mario Batali and Joe Bastianach and is a mini-Eataly for Greenwich residents who detest traveling to New York City.  Tarry Market has undergone a bit of makeover toward the end of last year, when they greatly expanded their dining facilities. I wouldn’t recommend it for dinner, but it is something of a cross between an Italian salumeria and a French Bistro. We go there frequently for lunch and are rarely disappointed. We will normally order one of their delicious sandwiches from the rotisserie (prime rib, porchetta or veal) with the daily soup. One day we were served a very tasty cannellini bean soup with some escarole or kale and Sheila decided to recreate this belly-warming soup at home.

Borrowing inspiration from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection, she prepared a variation of Tuscan White Bean soup with frizzled shallots and pancetta (Sheila’s variations are highlighted in bold). (Note:  The pancetta and shallots add a bit of crunch.  Definitely worthwhile). Enjoy.

Variations on Delia’s Tuscan White Bean Soup with Frizzled Shallots and Pancetta

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 8 oz of cannellini beans
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 good sprig each of parsley, thyme and rosemary (Sheila added additional rosemary)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 head of escarole (chopped)
  • A small rind of parmesan cheese (This addition makes any soup taste great!)
  • 2 pints of chicken stock
  • 4 Tbs of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and freshly milled pepper

Ingredients for Frizzled Shallots and Pancetta Garnish

  • 4 shallots, peeled and finely sliced into rings
  • 3 oz thinly sliced pancetta or streaky bacon
  • 3 Tbs of olive oil

Preparation of the Tuscan Soup

  • Soak beans overnight in twice their volume of cold water.  Drain before cooking.
  • Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in a saucepan and sauté onion until is softens (5 minutes)
  • Add escarole and cook down (2 minutes or so)
  • Add garlic and continue to cook for one minute.
  • Add the drained beans, parmesan rind, celery, herbs, ay leaf and black pepper (but no salt).  Pour in the stock and stir well.
  • When soup begins to boil, turn down heat to a gentle simmer and place the lid on the pot.  Cook for 1 1/2 hours stirring occasionally.
  • Check to see if the beans are tender and then gently mush a few of the beans and continue for another 10 to 15 minutes or so.
  • Add lemon juice and 2 Tbs of olive oil shortly before serving.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Remove parmesan rind.  Allow it to cool slightly and then cut in small pieces and return to soup.

Preparation of Frizzled Shallots and Pancetta

  • Roll pancetta into a cigar shape then cut into fine shreds.
  • Heat 2 Tbs olive oil at high temperature and add shallots cooking them for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove and allow to drain.
  • Add 1 Tbs olive oil to the same pan and fry the pancetta for 2 minutes or so.  Drain.

When you are ready to serve the soup, sprinkle the shallots and pancetta over the soup.  It doesn’t get much better than this!


White Bean Sausage with Anchovy Mayonnaise

I know the Brits are eccentric, but you have to be daft to enjoy bangers.  Who in their right mind would season sausage with nutmeg?  I had always assumed that the use of nutmeg in sausage had something to do with a tradition of preserving meat for long naval voyages during the time of Lord Nelson.  Nevertheless, I could find no mention of the use of nutmeg in naval cooking in all 21 books of Patrick O’Brien’s delightful Master and Commander series.  Before we criticize British cooking, the crazy idea of infusing Portuguese wine with brandy to survive the voyage  to England wasn’t all that bad.

I recently picked up Nigel Slater’s cookbook entitled “Real Food.”   This cookbook is full of beautiful photography of delicious food that we probably shouldn’t be eating.  There is a special section on cooking English bangers which I found particularly amusing:  ‘Just lay those gleaming, pristine links across the centre of the frying pan and leave them there, gently cooking, for a long time (long enough to make a pot of tea, take it upstairs to your slumbering partner, rouse him or her, share a few agreeable moments of repose, wash, dress, and slope downstairs again) – anything between forty minutes to an hour.”  Enough said!

Found below is a sausage recipe, but without the meat to appeal to the many people reading this blog who have eating disorders.

White Bean Sausages with Anchovy Mayonnaise

Ingredients (served 4)

250g cannellini beans (Fresh or canned, allow longer cooking time if using fresh beans)
1 large shallot, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 small red chillies, seeded and chopped
1 small free range egg
75g mature cheese (cheddar is fine) but you could use something stronger
a little flour and beaten egg
fine dry breadcrumbs for coating
Oil for frying
lemon wedges to serve

If using fresh beans, soak them overnight covered in cold water. Pour off the water and cover with fresh water – pop on the heat and cook at a lively simmer for about 45 mins till soft but not squashy. They are done when you can crush them between your fingers. Drain thoroughly. If using canned, mash the beans or whizz them for a few seconds in a processor. Stir in the shallot/onion, garlic, chillies, egg and grated cheese, then season generously. Cool. The mixture should be a stiffish paste. Roll into thick, short sausages, flour hands whilst rolling. Drop into the beaten egg, then the crumbs and fry in hot oil till crisp, about 6 mins.

For the Mayonnaise

4 large salted anchovy fillets
a large cup/200ml classic egg mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Eat hot with dollops of the anchovy and garlic mayonnaise and a wedge of lemon. Great as a canape, entree, or even the main course with a nice green leaf salad.

Sounds pretty good to me.