In 2001 my roommate went to Florence for a few weeks to do a class project (something to do with art history, don't ask me). When he came back, he showed me a really nice recipe he had picked up; apparently he had attended a formal dinner where the most fantastic food had been served, and he had replicated (to some degree of success) one of the dishes there. I tend to make it every few months, and in fact made it this very night. I have no idea what the original dish is called in Italy, but I realized for the first time tonight that what I've been making is really just a fancy version of pork and beans. It's an extremely simple dish, and quite tasty.
The 3024 Pork and Beans Special
- Start cooking the beans in the usual manner (ie, do whatever it says on the can). And if you're hardcore enough to be starting from fresh or dried beans, I'm sure you know how to cook them without any help from me.
- Chop the sausage into bite sized pieces and throw them into a frying pan under high heat
- Crush the garlic in with the sausage
- Turn the pieces every few minutes until the sausage is evenly browned on both sides and cooked all the way through.
- After the sausage and the beans are both fully cooked, lower heat and pour the beans over the pork, stirring them together until more or less combined. You want the beans to absorb some of the fat drippings from the sausage, so give it a minute.
Like I said, it's extremely simple, and takes only about 20 minutes to make from start to finish. Obvious variations are the inclusion of various herbs and spices (rosemary is an excellent pick), using bacon or ham instead of sausage, and including vegetables, though I would be careful with that one; at the moment I can't think of a single vegetable that would fit well in this dish, though if you can suggest one I would love to hear it. Lastly, I would like to know what this dish (or the dish that the above has evolved from) is called in Italy. It's been a mystery to me for some years now, and I wouldn't mind if it was finally solved. Gone Jackal suggests Fagioli all'uccelletto con salsicce, which looks quite plausible; the primary change is the addition of tomatoes and sage.
Accompany with: red wine, flour tortilla, salad. And yes, I know, serving a tortilla with Italian food makes about as much sense as the The Chewbacca Defense, but it works. I'm sure you can come up with a replacement bread product if you like to keep your meals culturally consistent.