Borlotti or Cranberry beans have a great buttery taste. They are similar in flavor to the cannellini bean, but have a bigger flavor. If you have not tried them, look for them at your supermarket in the dried beans section.
1 lb. dried Borlotti Beans (also called Cranberry bean)*
5 slices bacon, diced and cooked*
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 large Tomato, diced
1 small hot Chile pepper with seeds left in*
3 smoked ham hocks*
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tspn black pepper
1 large bay leaf (or 2 small)
Pinch of salt (taste before adding salt, ham hocks will be salty)
Pick through dried beans to make sure they are clean, no stems, etc. Clean, rinse and soak beans overnight or at least 4 hours in cold water.
Cut bacon into small pieces with kitchen shears or a knife. Brown bacon in heavy skillet. When done, remove bacon and saute onions and green pepper in same pan with bacon drippings. Cook until onions are limp and translucent and the green pepper is soft. Then add minced garlic, stir and cook for two more minutes.
Place soaked beans in a large heavy pot, add diced tomato and ham hocks. Also add cooked bacon and the green peppers, onions and garlic mixture to the pot. Add bay leave, then add water to cover the top of ingredients. Bring to a fast boil, then lower heat. Cover pot and simmer for 2 hours or until tender. Stir occasionally to keep beans from sticking. Add more water as necessary.
When done, you can add pieces of cooked chicken or cooked Italian link sausage. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the added meat is thoroughly warmed and has absorbed some of the flavor of the beans mixture.
Makes about 8 servings.
Serving suggestion. Use medium-sized bowl and place a large spoon of hot cooked spinach in bowl. Remove beans from pot with slotted spoon and add to bowl on top of spinach. Be sure to that you add meat (from ham hocks) to bowl along with any other meat you have added. No bread is needed because the beans are so hearty--but a small piece of Italian would be nice.
*Use any relatively hot chile pepper, jalapeno is excellent, if you use a serrano chile pepper, remove seeds and use 1/2 or 1/4 of the serrano pepper. Don't forget to use rubber gloves.
*If you choose not to use pork, you can use turkey bacon and smoked turkey drumsticks.
For more about beans, grains and rice see 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains at Amazon.