I'm a bit obsessed with the beans now for two reason. Firstly, the beans I ordered from Rancho Gordo in Napa are so good, and secondly, the weather has taken a turn and become very cold, so these sorts of foods just beg to be made.
The creamy texture of these beans is wonderful. It’s a simple recipe, but takes some planning. However, the results are well worth the time.
This is not Marcella's exact recipe as she calls for sage and frankly, I'm not a big fan. However, if you are a fan, feel free to substitute sage for the thyme.
I’m a big believer in soaking the dried beans for at least 4-6 hours or overnight. I like to use a heavy cast iron pan like Le Creuset to do the soaking, so I can go right to the stove top without any bother.
And, I do add salt to the soaking water and I don’t discard the soaking water. I know this is heresy for some people, but I’ve had good results. I think the article below is well worth a read.
It’s really only the soaking that requires the planning. After that, it’s just low and slow and a little hack that I’ve developed that works very well to finish the beans.
1 lb dried Cannellini Beans, soaked for 4-6 hours so there is about 2 inches of water above the beans and with 1 Tbsp of sea salt mixed in.
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Onion, coarsely chopped.
1 Carrot, coarsely chopped.
1 stalk Celery, coarsely chopped.
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and mashed
Fresh Thyme, just tie in a bundle with some butchers twine.
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Bring the beans to a boil and skim away the scum that rises, then reduce heat and add in all ingredients, gently stirring them in.
Cook it for at least 1 - 1 1/2 hours on a very gentle simmer, gently stirring occasionally.
Preheat your oven to 350F, cover the pan and into the oven for an additional hour.
Remove from the oven, remove the thyme bunch and serve with an extra drizzle of olive oil. I enjoy eating the vegetables, but feel free to remove them if you want pure beans.
Note: If you have trouble finding dried cannellini beans, you can substitute great northern or navy beans.