Aaaahhh, my dear Isabella and Luigi….grazie mille for so many fond memories of Montalcino. Having just spent a few weeks on the international business trail, my days were filled with foreign sights and sounds but my dreams were filled with the wonderfully warm memories of my recent visit to magical Montalcino – memories that I will not easily forget. And all of it thanks to you both and the wonderful window that your writings and hospitality have afforded me.
(To my blogsphere followers, if you haven’t read Isabella Dusi’s books on Montalcino, you must drop everything and run out this minute to buy copies. I have read and re-read both ‘Vanilla Beans and Brodo’ and ‘Bel Vino’ over and over (and over). Each and every time, Isabella’s vivid descriptions of Montalcino, its people and life on this magical hill in Italy leave me longing to jet across to wander through the magical streets, sip ruby red glasses of Brunello and gaze across the ‘battlefield’ imagining what life was like in times of war. My copies of her books have scribbles in almost every margin and pages have been folded, highlighted and folded yet again. They are a true feast for your inner traveler. And to top it all off, she and her husband Luigi offer amazing properties to rent in Montalcino which is how I found my beloved Casa Vignetto. )
I was craving simple Tuscan fare after returning home this week. With memories of crates of freshly picked porcini mushrooms in Montalcino, a porcini, sausage and white bean stew seemed the perfect fit. This comes together in a snap and is delicious with a bit of garlic-rubbed toasted bread, a simple green salad – and of course, a generous glass of ruby red Brunello or Rosso alongside. Open a bottle, put some Boccelli or Pavarotti on the iPod and enjoy!
Porcini, Sausage and White Bean Stew
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound sausage
1 small/medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 small sprig of rosemary
2 (19-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Bring 1/2 cup of water to boil and pour over dried porcini mushrooms. Let steep until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Remove porcini and dice. Strain porcini liquid through cheesecloth or a paper towel and set aside for use in broth.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or pan large enough to hold stew. Add sausage and saute until cooked through and brown, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside until cool. Cut sausage into slices.
3. In same pan, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and garlic. Saute until onion is soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Add white wine and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add in diced porcini, reserved porcini liquid, chicken stock, rosemary sprig and sliced sausage to pot. Stir to combine.
5. Puree 1/2 cup of cannellini beans in a food processor (…this is to thicken the stew a tad). Add the beans and bean puree to the stew and stir to blend. Add the diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer about 15 minutes, until cooked through. Remove rosemary sprig. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and toasted bread. Garnish with additional sprigs of rosemary …enjoy!