Recipe: Cal Peternell's Fagioli all'Amatriciana

Cal Peternell is one of my mentors and dearest friends.  Eating dinner once or twice a week at his house over the years has been as invaluable to my education as a cook--and as a human--as working in any kitchen.  His beautiful new book, Twelve Recipes, is my favorite kind of cookbook--one that guides, inspires, and delights at the same time.  Much like Cal himself.  

This is Cal's recipe for Amatriciana, combined with beans by the inimitable Michelle Fuerst.  Both are accomplished cooks, and great friends.   If you like, serve the sauce with spaghetti or bucatini instead.  

Fagioli all'Amatriciana by Michelle Fuerst
Fagioli all'Amatriciana
adapted from Twelve Recipes 

1 yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 pound sliced bacon, cut across into short sticks, or pancetta, or most authentically, guanciale
2 garlic cloves, sliced
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 15-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes, chopped, juice reserved separately
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
4 cups cooked white beans, drained, cooking liquid reserved separately
Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the oil and the onion.  Cook over until tender and golden brown, then add the bacon.  Cook until the bacon starts to brown around the edges, less than 5 minutes.  If there's too much fat in the pan, take some out, but save it.  Add the garlic and the pepper flakes, cook for just a moment, and add the tomatoes.

Raise the heat and bring to a simmer.  As the skillet gets to looking (and sounding) too dry and sizzly, add doses of the reserved tomato juice.  Let it all cook down for several minutes, until the tinny taste of the tomatoes has cooked off.

Add the beans to the skillet, and stir.  Bring everything back to a simmer.  Taste and adjust for salt and spiciness.  If it's too thick, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.  Taste and adjust seasoning a final time, then garnish with parsley and grated cheese.

Serve with crusty toasts, poached eggs, or roasted pork or chicken.  Or, just eat straight out of the pan.

Serves 6-8 people

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