A lot of you may know chef Chris Cosentino from his appearances on the TV shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef but here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we know him as the chef who taught us to finish all of our food. Chris took his passion for Italian food and made it clear that we need to eat the whole animal, for practical (and I’d say moral) reasons. Now he’s focusing on his Boccalone sausages and charcuterie. We had the pleasure of working an event with his crew a few years ago and he came up with this recipe. It’s perfect for showing off our beans and Chris’ nduja spreadable sausage.
For the beans:
- 1 lb. dried Rancho Gordo Royal Corona, Cassoulet, or Alubia Blanca Beans
- 1 gallon water
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 whole peeled onion
- 1 whole carrot, peeled
- 1 whole fennel bulb, split
- 1 whole celery rib
For the Nduja soffritto:
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 8oz Boccalone Nduja
- 1 white onion, 1/2 inch dice
- 1 fennel bulb, 1/2 inch dice
- 1 carrot, 1/2 inch dice
- 2 ribs celery, 1/2 inch dice
- 1 leek, 1/2 inch dice
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- Salt (about 2 tsp.) and freshly ground black pepper
- Sort through the beans, removing any stones or debris, and rinse under cold running water. Place the beans in a large pot, cover with cold water by at least two inches, and let soak for at least 4 hours
- Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Add 1 gallon water and whole vegetables. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat, continuing to simmer for one hour.
- Lower the heat so that the beans are barely simmering and cook for an additional 1 to 2 hours or until beans are just tender.
- Remove the whole vegetables from the beans and put the vegetables in the blender. Blend the vegetables to a purée and then pass through a strainer to remove the fibers. Add the purée back to the bean pot and stir. Allow the beans to cool in their cooking liquid.
- To make the Nduja soffritto, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the diced vegetables and crushed garlic cloves, making sure not to crowd the pan. Once the vegetables are cooked through (about 5 minutes), add the Nduja and break it up with the back of your spoon. Once the Nduja is fully broken down, melting into the vegetables, add the reserved beans and their cooking liquid. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened (about 5 minutes). Be careful not to break up the beans.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.