Food is culture. Recipes are more than a list of ingredients, they also speak about different ways of life and values.
Pendolòn, for instance, is a tangible memory of the past, when people used to work in the fields for long hours, bringing their food from home. Peasants’ life was hard, when lunch was a short break to boost people's energy with inexpensive but nourishing food. Pendolòn (which literally means ‘dangling’) is a kind of polenta from the Lamon region in Veneto. Made with borlotti beans and potato, and enriched with pancetta and onions, it is a nutritious and filling meal that peasants used to carry with them to the fields. As it dangled from their shoulders, they called it pendolòn.
The recipe is in Beans & Friends, the latest book on pulses Claude and I wrote together.
Here we enjoyed bringing to life the creativity of the Italian cucina povera, which could transform plain ingredients such as beans and potatoes, into a tasty and fulfilling meal just by dressing it with crunchy pancetta and onions. It is a heavy lunch for our time, but still delicious.
250 g dry borlotti beans
1 carrot, roughly chopped
3 medium blond onions
1 celery stick
2 bay leaves
1 kg baking potatoes, washed, skin on
160 g pancetta slices, chopped
40 g butter
Preparation time: 30 minutes plus the beans’ soaking time
Cooking time: 110 minutes
Serves 6 to 8
- In a large bowl, cover the beans with cold water, and soak overnight.
- The next day, drain and rinse.
- In a pan, cover the beans with fresh water, bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, return the beans to the pan and cover with boiling water. Add the carrot, 1 onion peeled and quartered, the celery stick and the bay leaves. Season with salt and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes until tender.
- Drain the beans, discard the vegetables and the bay leaves and keep 2 ladleful of the cooking water.
- Meanwhile, in another pan, cover the potatoes with fresh water and bring to the boil. Leave on a simmer for 40 minutes until tender. Drain.
- Finely chop the remaining onions.
- In a frying pan, heat the butter and gently sauté the pancetta with the onions on low heat, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Keep hot.
- In a food processor, mash the beans into a coarse paste, adding some of their cooking water, if necessary; mash potatoes with a ricer.
- In a large pan, mix beans and potatoes together and heat.
- Stir in the pancetta and onion; cook on low heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until you get a dense paste like polenta. Season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the pendolòn in a large dish, and let it set few minutes before serving.
|Tony, profession, window cleaner, enjoyed eating Pendolón when we were testing the recipe|