One of my favourite things. A lot of garlic is important.
225g cannellini or other dried white beans
5 cloves garlic - 1 chopped, 4 unpeeled
3 slices belly pork
A little sunflower oil
1tbsp olive oil
1 small pack (80g) smoked pancetta
100ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
Soak the beans in filtered water, preferably, for five hours or longer. (This process is not essential, but speeds the cooking of the beans and ensures that they soften more consistently.) Drain and rinse. Cover with fresh water (again filtered, if possible) by about 3cms, throw in the garlic cloves, bring to the boil, and simmer, with the pan partly covered, until soft. Times vary; my cannellini beans took 75 minutes. (Top up the water if necessary.) Drain, reserving the liquid in a clear jug. (Cooking dried beans)
Rub a little sunflower oil over the pork slices, and brown them quickly on a hot griddle or frying pan. (Browning meat for a stew)
In a heavy casserole, soften the chopped garlic in the olive oil for a minute or so. Pour in the chicken stock. Sludgy bean liquid will have settled at the bottom of the jug; pour off (but keep for some other purpose) the thinner stuff on top, leaving about 100ml, and pour it into the casserole. Add the pork slices.
Squeeze the softened garlic from the cloves you drained with the beans. Throw away the skins. Tip the beans and the garlic into the casserole. Add bay leaves, and salt to taste. Compress the stew slightly to submerge everything in liquid, but do not worry if the beans are not covered.
I started the stew in a gas mark 4/180C oven, turning it down after 30 minutes (when it was bubbling) to gas mark S/130C.
However, after an hour I wanted to use the oven for some roast potatoes, so I moved the casserole to the hob. There was more liquid by this time, and I simmered the stew gently, uncovered, until thick. Then I replaced the lid, and put a heat disperser under the casserole, so that it carried on cooking very gently. I cooked the stew for two and a quarter hours in total.
Pork and bean stew
Pork and bean stew 2