Monday, 16 November 2015


Today we have another installment in the series, Obscure Italian Peasant Chow. I ought to make it a searchable feature; I've cooked enough of them.

Apparently this is a dish from the Versilia-Garfagnana area of Tuscany, and I'm not quite sure what it is. Soup? Polenta? Soupy polenta, I guess; thickened by the beans as much as the cornmeal. One recipe I found suggested  putting sausage in it, but I'd be more inclined to cheese myself.

Some recipes call for a potato to be added as well. If you would like that, I would cut it in small cubes and boil it with the beans for the last 10 minutes of their cooking time. 

2 to 4 servings
1 hour

Cook the Beans:
1 cup dried kidney or borlotti beans
water to cover x 2
pinch of salt

Cover the beans with boiling water and soak overnight. Drain, rinse and cook in 4 cups of water until tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add a pinch of salt during the last half hour or so of cooking. This can, and probably should, be done a day in advance.

Make the Intruglia:
1 large onion
1 or 2 stalks of celery
1 medium carrot
3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon rubbed rosemary
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups bean cooking water or broth
1/3 cup cornmeal
2 cups finely shredded kale or Swiss chard

Peel and finely chop the onion, celery, and carrot. Finely mince the garlic.

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Saute the onion, celery, and carrot in the oil until soft. Add the sage, rosemary, pepper, and garlic. Mash well 1 cup of the beans and blend into the sauteed vegetables, along with 2 cups of the bean cooking water. If you don't have 2 cups of bean cooking water, top it up with broth or plain water. Add the remaining whole beans, and the tomato sauce.

Bring the intruglia to a simmer and pour in the cornmeal in a slow stream, stirring constantly. Slow! Or it will be lumpy. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the finely shredded kale or Swiss chard. Simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then turn off the heat and leave the pot covered for another 5 minutes. And so serve it forth.

Last year at this time I made Quick & Easy Braised Tofu

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