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Sausage, Bean, and Escarole Bake

Renée Robinson

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.

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Sausage, Bean, and Escarole Bake

Recipe by Renée Robinson
Servings

6-8

servings

A casserole of white beans, Italian sausage, and escarole is topped with pecorino and quickly-pickled Fresno chilies. This is definitely my kind of comfort food!

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Ingredients

  • 10 ounces 10 Royal Corona Beans or 2 - 15 ounce cans white beans, such as cannellinis

  • Morton kosher salt

  • Pecorino rinds

  • 3 large 3 garlic cloves, smashed

  • 3 sprigs 3 fresh rosemary

  • Black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon 1 hot red pepper flakes

  • 4 tablespoons 4 olive oil, divided

  • 5 5 Italian sausage links, cut in half crosswise

  • 1 pound 1 bunch of escarole, cleaned and coarsely chopped

  • 2 large 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly

  • 3 ounces 3 (84g) pecorino, shaved or sliced very thinly

  • Quick-Pickled Fresno Chilies
  • 1/2 pound 1/2 (230g) Fresno chilies, sliced into thin rings, seeds and all

  • 1 1 jalapeño chili, sliced thin, seeds and all

  • 2 2 inch piece galangal or ginger, sliced into medallions

  • 8 8 makrut lime leaves, optional

  • 1 1 dried habanero chile, optional

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 , plus 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

  • 5 1/2 teaspoons 5 1/2 granulated sugar

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons 4 1/2 Morton kosher salt

Directions

  • Rinse and soak the beans in 6 cups cold water and 1 tablespoon Morton kosher salt overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 325° with a rack in the center. Drain the beans and put them into a Dutch oven. Add 8 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, a couple rinds of pecorino, rosemary, several grinds of black pepper, red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes. Put the lid on the pot, place in the oven for about 30 minutes. You don’t want the beans to be fully cooked, you want the centers of the beans to still be a little too firm. Remove the pot from the oven.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 375°.
  • In a brasier or deep wide skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the Italian sausages and brown on 2 sides. Remove from the pan. Add the sliced garlic to the pan and cook for a minute or so, being careful to not let it burn. Add the escarole and cook, tossing, until it is limp - about 5 minutes. Add the drained beans and sausages to the escarole in the pan, along with 3 or so cups of the liquid from the beans. You want enough liquid to come to the top of the beans. Cover the pan and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Test the beans to make sure they’re completely soft. If they need a few more minutes, return the pan to the oven and check them after 10 more minutes. Remove the lid from the pot and place it back in the oven for about 20 minutes - until some of the liquid has reduced and you’re left with about a half inch level of liquid in the pot. Remove from the oven. Turn the oven to broil. Scatter the pecorino over the top of the beans and sausage and place under the broiler for a couple of minutes until it browns. Top with some of the pickled chilies, serve, and Enjoy!
  • Quick-Pickled Fresno Chilies
  • In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved. Add the sliced chilies, galangal, lime leaves, and dried habanero. Set aside for at least 30 minutes. This will last for several weeks covered in the fridge.

2 Responses

  1. Made this last night for supper! Then we had it again for lunch today. We served it over rice. It is definitely keeper! Well done and thank you!

    1. I’m so happy to hear this, Dawn!!! Yes, serving it over rice is a good call. I love it! Thanks so much for letting me know!

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