Paniscia di Novara - Italian Rice & Beans
A popular dish from the region of Piamonte, panissa is usually enjoyed during the winter and around the holidays. Within the region, there are several variants of panissa. This version is representative of what is known as "paniscia di Novara", one of the most famous varieties.
- 2 cups of rice (Superfino Baldo, Arborio, Vialone nano or Carnaroli)
- 1 cup of dried borlotti beans (or cranberry beans)
- ½ of a savoy cabbage
- 1 carrot
- 1 shallot or small white onion
- 3 tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 3.5 tbl. butter
- 2 stalks of celery
- ½ cup of dry red wine (Barolo, Gattinara, Barbera or Nebbiolo)
- 1 salam d'la duja (also called salame della duja), about 2 oz.
- 8.5 cups of water or vegetable stock
- 3 oz. of pancetta
- 2 oz. lard or pork rinds
- salt and pepper to taste
- Soak the beans overnight or for 12 hours.
- Blanch the pork rind (if using) for 5 minutes and then cut into strips.
- Cut the onion into thin slices.
- Peel the carrot and chop into half rounds.
- Remove the leafs from the celery and chop the stalk into small pieces.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes.
- Wash and cut the cabbage into ¼ inch strips.
- Drain the beans.
- Place the carrot, celery, cabbage, tomatoes, beans and pork rinds (or lard) into a large pot.
- Add the water or broth to the pot, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer
- Cook, covered, for about 2-3 hours or until beans are tender, salting to taste towards the end of the cooking time.
- When the bean soup is almost ready, cut the pancetta into small pieces and add it with bits of the salam d'la duja (removed from it's casing) to a large skillet with the onion and half of the butter.
- Sauté over low heat, stirring frequently, until the onions become golden and the pancetta and sausage are browned, 10-15 minutes.
- Add the rice, stirring quickly, to mix everything well and toast for a few minutes, being careful not to burn it.
- Add the wine, stirring continuously until it has been completely absorbed.
- Add the previously cooked soup a ladle at a time (excluding the pork rinds), still stirring continuously to ensure that everything mixes well.
- As the soup stock is absorbed, add the next ladle of soup, continuing for approximately 20 minutes (or according to the time listed for your rice).
- Taste the rice for doneness, and when cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste, add the remaining butter and mix well.
- Stir in the pork rinds (optional).
- Once the butter is melted, turn off the heat, leaving the dish to meld for approximately 5 minutes, then serve.
If you find that the rice does not seem to be cooking, add more broth from the soup at a time so that there is more liquid to be absorbed by the rice. The preparation for this dish varies from cook to cook and with subtle differences of ingredients used. If you want the consistency to be close to that of a risotto, avoid breaking the beans while cooking and keep the broth thin. If the beans break down and thicken the soup, the dish will be less risotto-like by the time the rice is cooked.