Tuscan bean stew

By Bob Blumer
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Make this rustic Italian restaurant-inspired stew right at home! Made with potatoes, ham hock, carrots, kale, and dried beans, this dish will keep you warm on those cold winter nights, plus bring a little gourmet to the dinner table. 

SERVES
8

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of dried butter, lima, navy or cannellini beans
  • 2 heads of garlic, with the last 2cm of the pointy end cut off to expose all cloves
  • 1 lemon, peeled just below the yellow layer into wide slices
  • 6-8 parmigiano (or pecorino or grana padano) rinds or 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano + 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano for finishing
  • 1 smoked ham hock or 1 smoked turkey leg
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary or thyme
  • 2 large potatoes, diced
  • 3 large carrots, sliced
  • 1-2 bunches of kale or swiss chard
  • 1-2 bunches of beet tops, radish tops, turnip tops or fennel bulbs (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon harissa or 1 teaspoon tabasco or 1/2 teaspoon red chilli pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil for finishing

Directions

TIP: If you are using cheese rinds, count ‘em. 

  1. In a large pasta pot, add beans, garlic, lemon peels, cheese rinds (only if you are using rinds, the grated cheese substitute will be added later), ham hock, herbs, and two to three litres of water (enough to cover all the ingredients + an extra 4 centimetres or so). 
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for two hours. If necessary, add more water so that all ingredients remain fully covered.
  3. Add potatoes and carrots and continue to simmer for 30 more minutes, or until potatoes are fully cooked and beans are fully cooked and soft to the bite. Add more water if necessary.
  4. As the potato and carrot finish cooking, remove the ham hock and the two garlic bulbs and let cool for a few minutes. 
  5. Separate the ham meat from the bone, fat and gristle.
  6. Return ham bits to the pot along with the greens and harissa.
  7. Squeeze the garlic cloves into the pot. If you are using grated cheese in place of the rinds, add it now. Simmer for 10 more minutes, or until the greens are wilted. If you are serving bread, this is a good time to heat it up in the oven or toast it.
  8. Fish out the cheese rinds (that’s why you counted them!) and the bundle of herbs. Squeeze the peeled lemon and add the juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Ladle stew into bowls and finish with a sprinkle of Parmigiano and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve and enjoy!

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