I think that sausage and beans have been around as long as men have been around. Somewhere along the historical line, some guy (probably Italian or Spanish) looked at his male package and wanted to feed a representation of it to someone, perhaps to share goodness or sexuality, or to laugh inwardly at some gullible heel for a sophomoric prank. Whatever may be the case, the results have been around for years, and no one is complaining.
Now that I’ve experienced and cooked an array of recipes across the cultural board, I tend to see concepts emerge. I have written about the bread + meat + egg + sauce concept, or the ground meat + seasoning + starch concept. The sausage and beans one is all over the place. In the U.S., we have pork and beans, made popular through camping and through Something About Mary. English and Irish breakfasts feature baked beans, eggs, and sausage, often. In the few times I’ve been to Barcelona, Spain, they have a sausage called butifarra, served traditionally with white beans. Pasta fagioli in Italy (called “pasta fazool” in my family) is often made with Italian sausage. Like a lot of Autumn meals, this is meant to warm, comfort, fill, and titillate.
This meal sort of riffs on all of these cultural traditions, and I made it for the first time tonight, kind of. I have made pieces of it separately, but tonight I put them all together and got a “dish,” so to speak. Here are the ingredients I had bought to get going on this:
I got a Sicilian chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s (chicken, tomato, and Romano cheese), white beans, a tube of pre-cooked polenta, some mushrooms, onion and garlic, and the means to cook them, like olive oil, butter, and spices.
From start to finish, you’re looking at 30 to 40 minutes, tops.
Sausage and Beans with Mushrooms
1 tube of precooked polenta (Trader Joe’s: $1.99. Albertson’s: $5.99. Do the math.)
6 sausages, grilled, Italian or Sicilian or whatever you’re in the mood for. Make it mild or earthy sausages, rather than sweet or spicy.
1 package chevre/ goat cheese
1 recipe Mushrooms a la Jonny (https://dinnerwithjonny.com/2012/11/13/sauteed-mushrooms-a-la-jonny/)
1 recipe Italian beans (recipe follows)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. water
1 16 oz. can great northern or cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Makin’ the beans:
Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a medium sauce pan or skillet and add the onion. Saute it until it’s soft, 4 minutes, and then add the garlic and red pepper. Saute this for 4 more minutes, and then add the water, the beans, and the salt and pepper. Let it get happy for a few minutes and you’re done.
Putting It All Together:
Preheat the oven to 450°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray it with cooking spray or coat it with olive oil (depending on how sexy you want to get). Slice the polenta tube into 8 slices. Lay them on the baking sheet and spray the tops of them with a bit more spray (or drizzle with olive oil, you sexy thing, you). Bake this for 10 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven and get ready to assemble the big shebang.
My wife, Angela, and I put our plates together differently. For mine, I did this:
I put three of the polenta slices on the plate. On one, I smeared some of the goat cheese, which gives it a tartness that’s beautiful. On one slice, I put beans all around it. On the last slice, I put the mushrooms all around it. I lay the sausages in the middle. I ground black pepper all over it, too. For each slice of sausage that I cut, I took a taste of one of the three options. In other words, I didn’t mix them all up and rather got three distinct tastes in one dish. Right on, I say to myself.
The wife did this:
She’s a goat cheese freak, so she slathered it on each polenta slice. She also sliced the sausage first. She piled on beans, mushrooms, and sausage, and got a beautiful dish with a rustic flair.
But there’s no green? The food shows, like Chopped or Iron Chef, always emphasize that colors are important, like textures. Yeah? Well they can piss off. This tasted out of this world, and we were full enough, to be sure. This looks like home cookin’. Notice that the placemat is an olive green, which is good enough for me on a Friday night two weeks before Christmas vacation.
Drinks! This is a great Chianti from Trader Joe’s:
It goes perfectly with this because although the meal is chicken based, it’s rich, so it needs a good red to break it down, if you will.
And that’s that.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.
©Jon Marino, 2012