I spent last week in San Francisco and missed my kitchen, although I did have a few good meals with friends, colleagues and even the Foodbuzz editorial team. Hence today I felt the need to get in the kitchen and prep a civilized lunch for a cool spring day. This cranberry bean gratin emerged out of the available ingredients, and we happily polished it off with a glass of white wine. I decided it is a keeper (even our 3-yr old loved it), so the recipe is below.
Meeting the Foodbuzz team was great fun (that’s me second to the left). We ate lunch on the water at La Mar and had some great peruvian-style seafood dishes. I continue to be impressed with the passion of the Foodbuzz team, and they are all super-nice people. I enjoyed our conversation about the food blogosphere, the rise of twitter among food bloggers, and the changing Foodbuzz site itself, and look forward to seeing their business grow and evolve.
Pancetta, Chard, Cranberry Bean and Gouda Gratin
0.15 lb pancetta (one thick slice), diced
1 medium onion, chopped finely
4 small cloves of garlic, minced
large bunch of swiss chard (instructions below)
2 medium tomatoes
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup reserved bean cooking liquid
1 tsp tomato paste
1 to 2 cups fresh or soaked cranberry beans
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 cup grated gouda cheese
2 tbsp unsalted butter
several sprigs of thyme
salt and pepper
Place the cranberry beans in a large pot, fill with water an inch above the top of the beans, and add 1/4 tsp of salt, 1 bay leaf, and 2 sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil then lower to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered until tender (start checking around 20 minutes). Reserve about 1/3 of a cup of the cooking liquid, drain and set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 375F.
Prep the chard by washing the leaves and removing the stems, discarding all but two of them (keep the two firmest, freshest stems). Chop the leaves, and thinly slice the two stems.
Grab a big hunk of country bread (stale or fresh), remove the crust, and turn into breadcrumbs in a food processor.
In an oven-ready large skillet (I like to use cast-iron), heat up a splash of olive oil and cook the diced pancetta on medium heat for 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the diced onion, and cook until the onions turn translucent. Add the chard leaves, chard stems, minced garlic, a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook until the chard leaves are wilted, and then stir in the cranberry beans, chopped tomatoes, white wine, reserved bean liquid, and about 1/4 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stir in the tomato paste and 1 tbsp of butter, taste for salt, and cook for 10 minutes more.
Turn off the heat. Sprinkle a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated gouda cheese on top. Cut a tablespoon of butter into small pieces and sprinkle around the top. Place in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. If the top is not browned, you can finish it off with about 30 to 60 seconds under the broiler.