I enjoy cooking and particularly like hearty dishes. This bean pot fills the bill and can easily be made into a vegetarian dish by eliminating the salt pork and sausage, increasing the olive oil for sauteing by an extra tablespoon and, lastly, substituting the chicken broth with vegetable broth..
3 C Small Navy Beans
2-3 large carrots cut into a small dice for @ 1 to 1.5 Cups worth
2 stalks celery cut into small dice for @ 1 to 1.5 Cups worth
1 large onion cut into small dice for @ 1 to 1.5 Cups worth
2 medium cloves of garlic minced finely
24 oz low sodium chicken broth
3 C water (filtered, preferably)
1 lb smoked beef sausage sliced
1 Tbsp Herbs De Provence
1. Soak Navy beans in water to cover for 4-6 hours, change water after two hours.
2. Prepare carrots, celery and onion by cutting into a small dice. Size for all should be approximately the same for even cooking.
2. Cut a 1/4 inch X 3 inch slice of salt pork off the slab and dice. Put into a cast iron dutch oven over low heat and let the fat render out from the salt pork. After the pork has rendered as much fat as possible and the meat has browned, remove it from the pot and set aside for later.
3. Add 2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil to the fat in the dutch oven.
4. Stir in minced garlic and saute lightly until translucent.
5. Stir in the carrots, celery and onions and continue to saute until the onion is translucent. Stir frequently.
6. Pour broth over vegetables and bring to a simmer.
7. Drain soaked beans and add to pot. If not fully covered by the broth, add water until the beans are fully covered.. Turn heat up and bring to a rolling boil for about 20 minutes. Then turn heat to simmer. Add back the reserved, cooked salt pork and sausage. Stir and put dutch oven lid on, reduce the heat and let simmer on the stove for 2 to 2.5 hours. (If you want to know whether your beans are done, try Chef Ann Burrell's tip: dip out six beans. Bite into each bean and if you can bite through each bean easily and it is still slightly firm, then they're done.) In the last half hour add in the herbs and add salt and pepper to taste.* Cool and refrigerate overnight.
8. The next day, bring beans out and heat on stove over medium heat until hot all the way through.
Serve with your favorite rustic bread on the side.
* Salt is added at the end of cooking beans because otherwise they will end up tough and inedible. The herbs are added at the end because they're more delicate and break down over long cooking times, so cooling the beans and letting them rest overnight in the fridge lets the herbs finish imparting their flavor.)