1 lb dried cannellini beans
3 quarts pork stock
1 whole carrot, peeled
1 whole fennel bulb, split
4 canned plum tomatoes, chopped
1 whole onion, peeled
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ lb Boccalone Ciccioli, cut into small cubes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 fresh sage leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Sort through the beans, removing any stones. Rinse the beans under cold running water. Place beans in a large pot and cover by at least two inches with cold water. Let them soak for at least 4 hours.
Drain the beans and return to the empty pot. Add the pork stock, carrot, fennel, onion and tomatoes. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer beans for one hour. Lower the heat so that the beans are barely simmering and cook for an additional 1 to 2 hours, until beans are just tender. Cooking time will vary depending on the freshness of the beans--the fresher the beans, the shorter the cooking time. Once the beans are just tender, remove from heat. Remove the whole vegetables and discard.
Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic cloves. Add the sage leaves let sizzle. Then add the reserved beans and their cooking liquid. Add the cubed ciccioli and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to break up the beans. The ciccioli will melt into the beans. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Note: This recipe calls for preparing dried beans. You can skip steps 1 and 2 in the recipe by using four 15-ounce cans of cannelini beans, drained and rinsed.