Let’s talk about braising for a moment.
One of the great discoveries of cooking, braising does not mean just bunging everything into a pot to simmer, although it can be made to look that simple. Rather, it is a traditional method for bringing out the hidden flavors and aromas of a food by a brilliantly simple two-step process. The first step, applying dry heat, causes oxidation and releases said hidden flavors- in other words, browning. For foods that have a low water content, such as the beans we are using today, a little oil or sauce may be necessary for the first step. Step number two, the addition of a cooking liquid, allows the flavors to intermingle after a nice, slow simmer.
The following recipe was adapted from Cooking Light.
Polenta with Tomato-Braised Beans
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 1/2 cups passata or strained tomatoes
2 cups cooked cannelini beans
1 cup polenta
4 cups water
salt and pepper
1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Sautee garlic and parsley until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cannelini beans and brown for 1-2 minutes, remembering to stir. Add sage and tomatoes, cover and cook 15-20 minutes over low heat.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Pour in polenta in a stream, being sure to stir constantly. Continue to stir while polenta cooks for 2 minutes. Cover and cook 10 more minutes. Uncover and stir, cooking for 2 minutes. Cover and cook 5 minutes. Uncover again, 2 more minutes. Cover, 5 minutes. Uncover, stir, and remove from heat- polenta should be fluffy and creamy, and ready to serve at the same time as the beans.
This wonderful meal is best with a simply dressed salad of arugula and a glass of wine. Link to the original recipe here. Cheers!