Friday, July 3, 2009

The 70s, Pasta Fagioli

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Pasta Fagioli

Cooking can lead to job security.

Soon after she began working at a medical office, New Milford Medical Group, Gina brought a pan of her lasagna to the office for a staff lunch. Everyone was impressed.

"Now this is what I call job security," one of her administrators remarked.

Later one of her employers, Dr. Michael Levine, had this to say about Gina's pasta fagioli.

"I have made pasta fagioli myself and I've ordered it in many restaurants throughout the world but this is --head and shoulders-- above any I've had. You've ruined me for any other!!

1 lb small dried white beans (cannelini, navy, etc.)
1 ham bone with some meat or 2 or 3 smoked ham hocks
6-7 cups chicken stock
2 or 3 bay leaves
1 large carrot unpeeled, washed and diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
1 medium onion chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 shallot chopped
3 or 4 peeled and chopped tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 heaping tablespoon pesto sauce
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
8 ounces small pasta or elbow macaroni
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Pick over the beans, wash thoroughly and cover with water. Allow to soak overnight, or bring to a boil, simmer for 2 minutes, and allow to sit covered off the heat for 1 or 2 hours before proceeding. (Quick soak method)

Drain the beans and discard the cooking water.

Add chicken stock to cover beans, ham bone or hocks, bay leaves, carrot, celery, and thyme, Bring to a boil and simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours until beans are tender. Remove bay leaves and discard.

Pick meat off bones and add to beans. Crush or mash a portion of the beans and return to pot.

While beans are cooking, fry bacon till crisp and set aside (will be added to soup at the end.)

Fry the onion in the bacon grease, and add to the beans while cooking.

Heat the oil in a small pan and saute the garlic and shallot in it. Add tomatoes, 1-cup stock, parsley, and pesto, bring to a boil and pour into cooked beans.

Cook the macaroni according to package directions, Reserving a couple cups of pasta water. Drain the pasta, rinse with cold water to stop cooking, drain and add to cooked beans.

Stir in cooked bacon; adjust consistency with reserved pasta water (if soup is too thick) or mash more beans (if soup is too thin.)

Adjust final seasoning with salt, pepper and grated cheese.

Servings 8-10

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