Parmesan White Beans with Guanciale and Greens

This is one of my favorite meals ever and it brings me back to my childhood. I save parmesan rinds just to make this recipe. You can also use canned beans and simply make your own parmesan chicken broth that you serve the beans in which is also delicious.

Italians are very resourceful in the kitchen and this dish is a great example of that. Stale bread turned to breadcrumbs and parmesan rinds really take this dish to the next level. You can even use any leftover meat scraps instead of guanciale or bacon. I make my own preserved Meyer lemon every year so I can enjoy the season all year long but a little zest and lemon juice will give this dish that pop that it needs.

Remember to use this recipe as a guide and customize to your liking. Not all ingredients are created equal so it is up to you as the cook to adapt and transform a recipe into something you will love to eat. Happy Cooking!

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1.5- 2 hours

Serves: 4-6 servings

Equipment:

Dutch oven to cook beans

skillet to cook bacon or guanciale

food processor or mortar and pesle for pesto

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Porcini Paradiso
  • 6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade and no salt
  • 1 lb dry white beans
  • Sprig of thyme
  • 8 - 10 ounces parmesan, rinds cut off and reserved
  • 1 bunch of kale, stem removed and sliced into thick strips
  • 6 oz guanciale or bacon, cut into cubes
  • Breadcrumbs, store bought or toast and roughly ground stale bread
  • Preserved lemon, finely chopped as a garnish or simply zest and juice 1 lemon
  • Pesto:
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 3 oz. Parmesan from above, grated (about ¾ cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 6 cups basil leaves (about 3 bunches)
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of pink peruvian salt

Steps

  1. In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and cook for 5-7 minutes or until softened and translucent before adding garlic.
  3. Add Porcini Paradiso and cook for one minute, just until fragrant.
  4. Add chicken stock, beans, parmesan rinds and a sprig of thyme.
  5. Simmer for 1-2 hours depending on bean. Turn off the heat when they are tender but before they are mushy.
  6. While the beans are simmering make your pesto, you can chop the herbs by hand and crush pine nuts in a mortar and pestle or pulse everything in food processor until desired consistency.
  7. Crisp your guanciale in a hot pan and save the fat.
  8. When the beans are done, pour the guanciale fat into the beans and season lightly.
  9. Add kale and the residual heat will cook the kale in a matter of minutes.
  10. Ladle the beans into a bowl and sprinkle with pieces of guanciale, dollops of pesto, a little preserved lemon, bread crumbs and a shower of parmesan.

Things to remember

  • I strongly recommend using homemade chicken stock because there are a lot of salty components in this dish and salted chicken stock can really take it too far.
  • Pesto is a perfect sauce to really experiment with the quantities to get the right flavor and texture for you. I make pesto differently each time I make it. Depending on my mood and the quality of ingredients I have on hand.