OK, I made a very very nice pasta e fagioli. The pasta in question: penne rigate, of Garofalo Pasta di Gragnano, imported from Italy, purchased from Costco for $1.00/lb. The catch was, I had to buy six lbs of the sucker! I know, I know what you are thinking – you can buy regular pasta at any store for that price. For 500 years of tradition though, it’s a bargain. If you get it, check out the texture, and the great way the wheat flavor complements whatever you dish out.
The fagioli, or, beans, ladled over the penne were the ones saved by the complex beauty of a California cabernet sauvignon, described earlier. A few days have gone by. The flavors have settled in, maturing intensely. I feel comfortable sharing the recipe, now that I know it works. This prep is hugely non-traditional, quite the hijacking, since the dish usually contains cannellini or some other white bean – not the pinto bean(!) and chicken broth – not red wine!
- 1 large skillet;
- 1 large crockpot (I think mine holds 6qts);
- 1lb of dried pinto beans, soaked overnight and drained;
- 1 26 oz. can of Hunt’s spaghetti sauce (I used the Sausage version);
- 2 medium/smallish yellow onions;
- 3 medium bay leaves;
- 2 links of plain/mildly herbed sausage; and
- 2 cups of cabernet sauvignon (I don’t know wine – but I’m guessing this would work with any excellent-quality red wine).
Set a skillet to medium-high, and the crockpot to high. Put the beans into the crockpot. Thinly slice the sausage into 1/8-inch discs. Chop the yellow onions into 1/4 inch pieces. Test the skillet with water drops.
Throw the sausage discs onto the skillet – use a spatula vigorously here. Once the sausage begins to brown, add the onion. Let the onions sweat a little. Add the wine – at least enough to deglaze the sausage and onion bits that have stuck to the skillet. Then, add all of the spaghetti sauce. Let this simmer a little – 5 or 10 min.
By this time, the crockpot should be warming up – probably not actually warm at this point. No matter – transfer everything from the skillet in the crockpot. Add any remaining spaghetti sauce, or wine if you haven’t put it in already.
Keep the crockpot on high. Put the lid on, and let it go for six hours. The texture of the pinto beans remains extremely firm, even after hours and hours of cooking, and brutal re-heatings in a microwave. Serve with a little Parmesan. Mangia people, mangia!