Fave in Porchetta
The other broad bean recipe that is popular in Le Marche is fave in porchetta and no it’s not some variant of the roast pork so popular throughout central Italy; just to confuse foreigners like me ‘in porchetta’ means in the style of porchetta ie the dish will contain wild fennel, garlic, white wine, and fatty bacon or pancetta.
Almost anything can be in porchetta, and rabbit is the favoured game to cook in this way. Forget all notions of fluffy bunnikins: keeping rabbits was normal in my village – and they were all destined for the pot. When Giovanna’s husband was still alive, my early morning cuppa (see my previous post) would regularly be interrupted by the scream of a rabbit being despatched by him. It was a bit startling.
Come to think of it, the habit of keeping animals for food seems to have died out in the last year or so – pigeons and chickens along with the rabbits have disappeared from the coops – and I guess it’s to do with the younger generation preferring to buy their meat from the supermarkets.
Coniglio in porchetta is a fiddle, what with having to bone the rabbit – I want to find a nonna, granny, to show me how. In the meantime this bean recipe is so much easier, assuming you can get hold of some wild fennel fronds. I rashly planted some in the garden and now it’s impossible to get rid of. The tops of bulb fennel are a pale substitute; you could use dill but it doesn’t have the anise flavour and using a herb just because it looks similar isn’t always the best idea; or try a half teaspoon of crushed fennel seed and add some chervil just before serving. For 4 to 6 people:
700g broad beans, shelled
1 tablespoon olive oil
50g pancetta cubed, or streaky bacon
2 garlic cloves, chop
100ml white wine
small bunch of wild fennel fronds, chopped
salt and black pepper
extra virgin olive oil for serving
Boil the beans for 3 minutes, and then shell them. They will be only half cooked. While this is happening, sauté the bacon in the olive oil and add the garlic for the final minute or so of frying. Add the beans, wine and fennel, season with a teaspoon of salt and continue frying the mixture until the beans are cooked and most of the wine as evaporated. Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Dribble a little olive oil over the beans as you dish them up.