The Flavors of White Beans, Italian Sausage, and Greens Hardly Need Anything Else in Order to Shine.
Escarole and beans is a classic dish for a reason. It’s one of those ultimate comfort foods. The bitter flavor of the greens mellows completely when they’re braised with the beans. I had a taste for it, but I wanted something more substantial. Italian sausage seemed like a natural addition, and then I thought some pickled chilies scattered on top would give it a nice burst of bright acid flavor. I think you need them in order to balance out all the other deep umami flavors.
You could definitely make this with canned beans – nothing wrong with that at all. But seeing as I had a partial bag of my favorite Royal Corona Beans from Rancho Gordo, I used those. I began by soaking them overnight in salted water and cooking them the next day. I only cooked them until they were semi-soft. I wanted them to finish cooking with the sausage, seasonings, and escarole, so that they’d absorb all those flavors.
If you use canned beans, just skip the initial cooking of the beans and proceed with the rest of the recipe. I use about 3 cups of the liquid from the cooked beans, but you could easily substitute chicken stock.
After everything had baked in the oven for a half hour, I removed the lid and let it continue to cook for about 20 minutes, until the liquid had somewhat reduced. That’s when I turned on the broiler, and topped the beans and sausage with shaved pecorino. It only took a couple of minutes under the broiler for the cheese to melt and become nicely golden.
In the meantime, I made a batch of Quick-Pickled Fresno Chilies. If you can’t get your hands on Fresnos, use jalapeños. Besides the typical vinegar, sugar, and salt, I threw in some slices of galangal and makrut lime leaves. You can easily substitute slices of fresh ginger and just leave out the makrut lime leaves. Or you could add a few strips of Persian lime zest. The lime leaves did add a beautiful flavor to the pickled chilies. You’ll have plenty of leftover pickled chilies to use on other dishes. They are particularly good on sandwiches.
A bowl of these sausages, beans, and escarole was just what the doctor ordered (I’ve been battling a cold – ugh!). Don’t forget to serve it with some bread to soak up the juices and you’ll see what I mean.