Favata

Sausage and Bean Stew

At one time Sardinia was ruled by Spain, so it is no surprise that this pork and bean stew resembles the classic Spanish cocido. The Sardinians serve this savory stew with slices of fried bread and braised cabbage and fennel fronds, and garnish it with grated pecorino. You can accompany it with “Suffocated Cabbage” (the recipe makes more than enough for an accompaniment, but the leftovers can be reheated). A flavorful garlic sausage or an assortment of sausages adds richness to the beans, and the chopped mint provides the lively accent that completes the dish.

Ingredients

For the Beans

  • 2 cups dried white or fava beans, picked over, rinsed, and soaked overnight
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ to 2 pounds sweet sausages with or without fennel or garlic sausages (about 6)
  • Olive oil for frying
  • pound salt pork or pancetta, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (optional)
  • cups seeded and chopped, canned tomatoes
  • 1 cup meat stock or water
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 4 to 6 thick slices coarse country bread, fried until golden in olive oil
  • Grated pecorino sardo cheese

Method

To prepare the beans, drain them and remove the skins if they have not been removed before drying. Place the beans in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, and water to cover by 3 inches, and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the beans are tender, 40 to 60 minutes. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool in the liquid.

Prick the sausages with a fork in a few places and place them in a skillet. Add water to a depth of ½ inch, place over medium heat, and “steam,” uncovered, until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the sausages to a cutting board and cut into chunks. Set aside.

Place a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and film the bottom with olive oil. And the salt pork or pancetta and fry until crispy, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cracklings to a small bowl. Return the pot to medium heat, add the onion to the fat remaining in the pan, and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika (if using), and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add the stock or water, wine, reserved sausages and pork cracklings, and mint and simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Add the beans with some of their liquid to the pot, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are very soft and dish is aromatic, 30 to 40 minutes. Check from time to time and add bean liquid if the liquid has reduced too much.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve the stew with the fried bread on the side. Pass the cheese at the table.

Wine

You can pour red or white wine here. If red is your choice, try the local Cannonau from Sella & Mosca, Contini, or Argiolas, or Torgiano Rosso from Umbria. If you prefer white, think Vermentino from Sardinia or even an Orvieto from Umbria.