Fagioli al Forno
This is a hearty, winter day’s Italian recipe for beans and meat. It actually tastes better the next day.
Serves: 6 to 8
Cooking time: 60 min
You need: an oven proof casserole or dutch oven
Notes: requires soaking overnight
- 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) dried small white beans
- 1 large smoked ham hock, or @100g (1⁄4 Lb) bacon
- 1/2 Kg (1 Lb) tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 leek, white parts only, cut into thin slices; or 1 large onion, cut into very thin slices
- 3 garlic cloves, mashed
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Put the beans in a bowl, add enough water to cover them by at least 5 cm or 2 inches (or more, you can’t go wrong here) and soak them for anywhere between 12hrs and 24hrs. (The more you soak them, the better.)
- Feel free to change the water when you remember doing it. Changing the water helps in getting rid of the phytic acid and other anti-nutrients more effectively.
- Next day: drain the beans and transfer them to a big enough, ovenproof casserole.
- Turn on the oven to 160C / 325F so that it starts preheating.
- If you are using a ham hock: scrape it if necessary and scald it with boiling water.
- If you are using bacon: tie the slices together with a string. (You’ll remove the string later.)
- Add the ham hock or bacon, the tomatoes, the leek or onion, the garlic and the olive oil to the beans.
- Add your salt and pepper and stir.
- Put the casserole on the stove.
- Add enough water to cover the beans by about 2 fingers / 1 inch.
- Bring it to boil.
- Cover the casserole with the lid and transfer it to the preheated oven (160C / 325°F).
- Cook for 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the beans.
- At serving time remove the ham hock or bacon and cut it. You can then use it either as a side dish or mix it in with the beans – your choice.
Notes on Italian Baked Beans with Tomatoes and Ham or Bacon
- Check for moisture from time to time. If the beans look too dry then add a little hot water, 1/4 glass (cup) at a time. If they look like soup then uncover the casserole to help the liquid evaporate.
- You can use a dutch oven instead of a casserole.