Luxury in a Bowl

This post’s title doesn’t make it at all clear what was in this dish, however, it is still a completely accurate title. In this bowl of love was cannellini beans, caramelized onions and a poached egg. Oh yeah, and crispy bacon. If your mouth isn’t watering at that simple list of ingredients then let me assure you that this whole was way greater than the sum of its parts. The bacon was crisped and the onions caramelized, over low, low heat for a long, long time in the rendered bacon fat until they were beautifully browned and incredibly sweet. The beans had just the slightest bit of bite before yielding completely. The yolk of a perfectly poached egg provides a silky sauce, combining with a bit of chicken stock to evenly coat the beans while small, crispy bits of bacon provide a salty, porky, textural counterpoint. The whole dish is freshened up with the barest squeeze of lemon and chopped chives.

As I was making this on a weeknight I didn’t give the onions the whole 5-6 hour time allotment provided for French Onion Soup. What? I didn’t tell you that I made French Onion Soup?

I did. And it was glorious. But more on that one at a later date. I did, however, slowly brown the onions over a three hour period, allowing for an intense sweetness. Aside from that, the dish is pretty simple and comes together relatively quickly. The only real advanced planning required is an overnight soak for the dried beans. If weeknights are too hectic the onions can be browned in advance. They can also be sauteed over higher heat. You will lose some of the sweetness and complexity, but the finished product will still be great.

See the way the yolk mixes with all the other ingredients? As love is a feeling it’s a hard thing to try to describe using visual terms. However, were I to try I’d think it looked a lot like the photo above. Make this one before winter ends.

Cannellini Beans with Caramelized Onions, Poached Egg and Crispy Bacon

Cook time: 3 1/2 hours (could be done faster, see above), plus overnight soaking of beans. Serves 2.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced, plus 1 unpeeled onion, halved
  • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped, plus 2 cloves unpeeled and smashed with the side of a knife
  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch fresh chives
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Add beans to a large bowl and cover with water. Allow beans to soak overnight.

Cook the bacon in a large saute or fry pan over medium high heat. When cooked and crisp, remove bacon to a bowl using a slotted spoon and reserve. Lower temperature under the pan to low and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add sliced onions and cook, stirring fairly often, until onions have softened completely and begun to brown, approximately 2 hours. (Note, cook over higher heat for faster preparation but be sure not to burn onions. Stir constantly.) Add garlic and a pinch of kosher salt, red pepper and 1 tablespoon chopped thyme and continue cooking and stirring approximately 1 hour more.

At the point that you are almost ready to add the garlic to the onions, drain cannellini beans. Add them to a sauce pot along with the halved onion, the smashed garlic cloves and 2-3 sprigs of thyme. Add water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Simmer beans for 45-60 minutes, checking for texture. When they are almost done add a healthy dash of kosher salt to the pot.

Bring a separate pot of water to a boil and lower to a simmer. Add a teaspoon distilled white vinegar.

Add chicken stock to the onions and simmer, stirring, until the stock reduces a bit and the flavor of sweet onions permeates the sauce, 5-10 minutes. Drain finished beans, removing onion, garlic and thyme, and add them to the onion mixture. Add a bit more stock if necessary to ensure the beans are well coated and add a glug of good quality olive oil.

Crack the eggs into separate small bowl. Using a wooden spoon, create a vortex in the water by stirring along the rim of the pot. Drop the eggs one at a time into the center and poach until whites have just set.

Turn off heat under beans. Squirt with a small squeeze of half a lemon, add bacon and stir to combine. Add bean mixture to 2 shallow bowls and top each with a poached egg. Garnish with chopped chives.

Cut into egg and mix the golden awesomeness around to make a silky sauce.

Moan with pleasure……….

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2 Responses to “Luxury in a Bowl”

  1. Jessica February 28, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    Oh my yum. This sounds delicious.

  2. WestchesterFoodie February 28, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    It really, really was. Every bite I took upset me just a little bit because I had one bite less to eat…..

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