i swear this dish started out as a vegetarian dinner. and it was. twice. until it just couldn’t be anymore. and really, there is so very little meat on this plate. just 2 measly strips of: "MY-VERY-OWN-UNFREAKINREAL-CURED-BACONY-STUFF". i mean, who the hell knew you could do this? next thing you know i’ll be baking my own baguettes… not. but hey, first let’s talk about the beans. which are not just any beans. they are rancho gordo’s scarlet runner beans. and i love them. truly and with feeling. here’s a fact: if you’re buying the beans on the shelf of your supermarket, just know that they can easily be up to 12 years old. and even if you think that those beans are "just fine", it’s only because you’ve never tried rancho gordo’s beans. and when you do, i believe you’ll be a convert, just like me. so there ya go.
when i looked on RG’s site, they say that they like to make the scarlet runners with wild mushrooms. so i got to thinking… and after a good long soak, i added the beans to a pot of onions that had been caramelizing for about 30 minutes. then i added some reconstituted wild mushrooms – a good mix of porcini, morel, shitake, oyster and portabella, – along with its (strained) soaking water. towards the end of the cooking i added a large amount of chopped mustard greens, fresh thyme and some salt and pepper – and let the dish simmer until i felt the beans were done. for planning purposes, please note that these beans are of the extra large variety and take a long time to cook – 3 hours or so.
so after eating the hell out of this damn fine pot-o-beans, i began to yearn for something more. something well, meaty. so i channeled my inner gabrielle hamilton from the AMAZING – but AMAZING – restaurant ‘prune’ in nyc’s east village, and i wacked a coupla slices off my beautifully cured belly, trimmed the skin off the edges and fried those porky strips right up. and then, because it’s what i do – i poached an egg.
and you think that’s it, right? like what more could i possibly do to improve on this, right? well the next night when i gave cary the last of it for dinner, i added some leftover polenta as the bottom layer. and i set that bowl down before him and said "of all the things i’ve made in quite some time – i am the proudest of this dish". i really think that gabrielle would be just fine offering this on the ‘prune’ menu. no really. i do.
and the parsley sprig? that’s so totally for you…