How to Make the Best Umbrian Stew.

I purchased a new Stockpot and thought the best way to break it in was by making a hearty Umbrian Stew.  The recipe I’m about to share comes from a cookbook my sister gave me at Christmas about 10 years ago.  Called Enoteca  by Joyce Goldstein, it is in the subtitle “simple, delicious recipes in the Italian wine bar tradition” that caught my attention.  (FYI – Enoteca translates to Wine Bar).

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The focus of Enoteca is to inspire home chefs to make a meal of many small dishes.  As the book jacket says,Eat less, but taste more – a great way to discover the terrain of both food and wine.”  Now that is a foodie strategy I can live by.

Goldstein calls this stew La Padellaccia and is primarily a pork and borlotti bean stew.  If you’re unfamiliar with borlotti beans take a second to go back and read our blog post from January 29th of this year ( Goldstein points out that the recipe is quite rich which makes it a great meal to tap off our UN-official tribute to October as Comfort Food Month.

Dried Borlotti Beans

Before we get into the recipe itself, you got to understand a little bit behind the history of this dish.  Originating in Umbria  which is noted for its pork dishes, La Padellaccia (the wicked pan) is linked with ancient peasant traditions.  That fact along was enough to make me add this dish to my cooler weather menu.

Now I know above we talked about eating less but tasting more, however this recipe serves eight, so be sure to have the gang over when preparing this stew.  Here goes:


  • 2 cups or about 1 pound of borlotti beans
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 to 8 cloves of garlic minced
  • chopped needles from 1 fresh rosemary sprig about 2 tbsp.
  • 1 tsp.freshly ground pepper plus pepper to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Grated Pecorino cheese


  Place the beans in a stockpot with water and soak overnight.  The next day, drain the beans and place in a saucepan with 2 quarts water.  Bring to a boil over medium- high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until tender but not soft, about 40 minutes.  Add 1 tsp of salt during the last 15 minutes of cooking.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Combine the garlic, rosemary, the remaining 1 1/2 tsp salt, the 1 tsp pepper and red pepper flakes to the bowl.  Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan over high heat.  Add the pork pieces in batches and stir until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle the browned meat with the garlic mixture and lemon juice, mixing  is quite lean be sure to add water or stock if the meat seems to dry or stick.

If when the pork is done there is extra fat in the pan. spoon it into a saucepan and use it to warm the cooked beans.  Otherwise reheat the beans over low heat in their own liquid.  Transfer the beans to a large serving dish and sprinkle with lots of black pepper and Pecorino cheese.   Spoon the pork over the beans and serve.

Alternatively, you can combine the pork and beans in a pot and heat together to serving temperature, then transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the pepper and cheese.  Serve the stew hot or warm.

I’m a big fan of pairing foods from a region with quality wines from the same region.  I’m suggesting a Montifalco Sagrantino to accompany this dish.  These are powerful wines with great depth.  Look for wines with a bit of age.  I recommend the 2006 Scacciadiavoli Sagrantino di Montefalo, which scored 90 points from.  Dark fruit takes center stage while offering great balance and class. Another choice is the 2007 Antonelli Sagrantino di Montefalo, a quality producer and a vintage year that is drinking great right now.



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