A favorite recipe of ours from British chef-turned-farmer Julius Roberts. Reprinted with permission from his new book, The Farm Table.
From Roberts: "This is a dish I often find myself yearning for on a long, dark evening. It sits somewhere between a soup and a stew. As the beans cook they relax into the unctuous broth, studded with rosemary, red pepper flakes and cinnamon for a soothing warmth. If you can find Italian sausages, they have a coarser texture and pleasing richness, but a quality British banger will do the trick too. We eat this on our knees by the fire with rain lashing against the windows. All it needs is a hunk of bread with butter thick enough to leave teeth marks."
Serves 4 to 5
- 1 lb/500g Italian sausages
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 yellow onions
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- a generous pinch of red pepper flakes, for warmth, not prickly heat
- a few sprigs of rosemary (sage or thyme also work)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- a small glass of Madeira, sweetish sherry, beer or white wine
- 2 whole tomatoes from a can
- 1 x 24 oz/700g can of white beans (or 2 x 14 oz/400g cans–I like to use 1 cannellini and 1 butter bean) [[Note from Rancho Gordo: We'd suggest about 4 cups cooked Rancho Gordo white beans such as Marcella, Cassoulet, or Large White Lima]]
- 3 cups plus 3 tbsp/750ml chicken stock
- 9 oz/250g Swiss chard or lacinato kale
Start by slicing the skin of the sausages so you can remove the meat. Then roughly break into small meatball-size pieces. Finely slice the garlic, celery and onions. Get a large heavy-bottomed pot hot, drizzle in the olive oil and, once warm, add the sausage. Fry for a few minutes to release the fat and get some color on the meat. Then turn the heat right down and add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary, bay leaves and cinnamon. Don’t let the garlic take on any color–this stage is about slowly infusing flavor into the oil, so you want a low heat and a gentle sizzle.
When ready, pour in the Madeira to deglaze the pot–you can do this early, to cool down the pot if your garlic is beginning to color. With a wooden spoon, scrape up all the goodness from the bottom of the pot, then add the onions and celery, and crush in the tomatoes. Season generously, mix well and cook on gentle heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the onions are sweet and wonderfully softened.
Add the beans and pour in the stock. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the broth thickens and the flavors come together.
Strip the stalks from the Swiss chard and chop into 3/4-inch/2cm pieces. Add them to the broth and simmer for a few minutes, then add the leaves and stir through. Put the lid on, turn off the heat and leave for 5 minutes. When ready,
remove the lid and have a taste. You might want to add a touch more red pepper flakes for warmth, and more salt if the broth isn’t rich enough. Pour generously into bowls and serve with thick slices of lavishly buttered bread for dunking.
“The Farm Table” Text copyright © 2023 by Julius Roberts. Photographs copyright © 2023 by Elena Heatherwick, except as noted. Illustrations copyright © 2023 by Jethro Buck. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown Publishing Group.”