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Jacques's Ragout of White Beans

Jacques?s Ragout of White Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Great Northern or other small white beans,
      sorted through and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 oz. lean pancetta, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to
      taste
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

In a large pot, combine the beans with 6 cups cold water and the 1 1/2 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, partially covered. After 1 hour, taste several beans to check for doneness. They should be tender to the bite but not mushy. Simmer longer if necessary.

While the beans are cooking, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta, toss to coat with the oil and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the onions, garlic, thyme and the 1/4 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and garlic are soft, about 10 minutes more.

When the beans are nearly tender, stir in the pancetta-onion mixture and return to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the beans are done, about 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat. Strain or ladle out any liquid covering the beans.

For a thick, creamy texture, remove 1 cup of the beans and puree in a blender or food processor; stir the puree through the rest of the beans. Adjust the seasonings as needed with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped parsley over the beans.
Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, by Julia Child and Jacques Pépin (Knopf, 1999).