Beans and Sausage With Polenta (Lidia Bastianich)

"In 'Lidia's Italy'; from Padova and Treviso"
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Ready In:
1hr 45mins




  • Rinse beans and soak them in plenty of cold water for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Drain and place the beans in a 4-quart saucepan with fresh cold water, covering them by an inch or more, along with the 4 bay leaves and 2 tablespoons oil.
  • Bring to a boil, partially cover the pot, and adjust the heat to maintain a bubbling simmer.
  • When the beans are almost tender, but still slightly undercooked, after about 40 minutes, remove from the heat; drain through a colander.
  • Stir in the 1/2 teaspoon salt and let cool; discard the bay leaves.
  • Add 4 tablespoons olive oil into the wide saucepan, scatter the bacon pieces into it, and set over med-high heat.
  • Cook, stirring, until the bacon starts rendering fat, then drop in the sausages; let them sizzle and begin to brown.
  • Add the chopped onion and the two bay leaves, and stir them around the pan bottom; meanwhile, keep rolling over the sausages so they color on all sides.
  • Cook for several minutes to allow the onion and meat to caramelize, then clear a space on the pan bottom and drop in the tomato paste.
  • Stir it in the clear spot for a minute, until sizzling, then spread the paste all around the pan, stirring and tumbling the sausages so they are coated.
  • Pour the red wine vinegar into a clear space in the pan, let it sizzle and evaporate for a few minutes, then stir and tumble everything again.
  • Pour 1 cup of hot water into the saucepan, increase the heat, and deglaze the caramelization as the water bubbles.
  • Pour in the crushed tomatoes and stir well.
  • Rinse the tomato containers with a second cup of water, and pour that in too.
  • Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, stir everything together, and bring to a boil.
  • Keep the tomato sauce bubbling gently for about 10 minutes, then spill the beans into the pan; stir in the beans while the sauce returns to a boil.
  • Stir in the water, if needed, so the sauce is loose and nearly covers the sausages and beans.
  • Cook at a gentle boil, stirring now and then, until the beans are tender and the sauce has nicely thickened, 10 minutes or more (add water if the beans need longer cooking; or, if the sauce seems too loose, reduce it quickly over high heat).
  • Turn off the heat, and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
  • Cover the pan to keep the beans warm until the polenta is ready to serve.
  • Assemble individual portions in warm wide pasta bowls; first dip a large spoon in water, and with it scoop up polenta and mound it in each bowl.
  • Spoon over a generous helping of beans in sauce, and lay a sausage on top.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, grind on more black pepper, and serve immediately.

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