Sunday, 2 January 2011

F is for... Fiasco al Fagioli

Fiasco al Fagioli, or flageolet bean soupy stew, is a Tuscan dish which Richard and I ate on a trip to Italy. I ordered a bowl after a plate of antipasti and before another two courses, which in hindsight, may have been an error. The Italians are certainly not ungenerous with their portions and my bowl of beans was like the magic porridge pot. However much I ate, it didn't seem to reduce in size. I had to leave most of it, delicious as it was, or there would have been no room left for the other courses my greedy eyes had already chosen to order. Still, I think I may have still eaten around a tin's worth of beans and this is a very filling dish. For "F", I served only very small portions in shallow soup bowls so I wouldn't fill everyone up too early on - especially as there was quite a way to go yet...

Fiasco al Fagioli

The onions in this dish are cooked in pork fat, but as one of my dinner guests' diets is a pig free zone, I left out the lard.  This dish is traditionally slow cooked in a wide necked wine flask which is settled in the embers of a fire, but i thought an oven would be simpler. You could pop it into a casserole dish and slow cook in the oven, but I made this version in a cast iron lidded pot on the hob top.

2 tins of flageolet beans, drained and rinsed
6 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 handfuls of fresh rosemary 
1 pint of fresh chicken or vegetable stock 
Salt and pepper

Fry the onions and garlic in a generous glug of olive oil until soft but not browned. Add the stock and beans and leave to cook on a gentle heat for an hour. Add the chopped rosemary (leaving a few whole leaves for scattering later) and season and simmer for another hour, stirring every now and then and topping up with more stock or water if the beans are boiling dry. Scatter in the remaining rosemary, leave for ten minutes and serve in warmed shallow soup bowls with a glug of extra virgin olive oil and cracked black pepper over the top. Sprinkle with a little parmesan if you wish and serve with freshly baked focaccia

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