Fagioli al fiasco (Beans in a flask)
Tuscans are often known as the “bean eaters” by other Italians. This is the traditional method used by Tuscan farmers in old days to cook their beans, by which they would place a glass jar in a corner of the fireplace on hot ashy embers before going to bed and would have freshly cooked beans in the morning.
Nowadays, there are various suggestions out there to reproduce the taste of cooking beans in this manner. You could try this method if you have a wood burning oven or fireplace but the modern way would be either 1.) to place the bottle on your gas stove top, using a metal grate under the bottle to prevent the direct flame from coming into contact with the bottle and thus breaking it or 2.) get a large stockpot, place a metal basket at the bottom to hold the bottle upright but also to serve as a barrier between the bottom of the pot and bottom of the bottle, then fill the stockpot with water until it reaches the same level as the top of the beans in the bottle, then bring to a simmer and cook until the water within the bean bottle is almost all gone. Keep adding hot water to the stockpot as it evaporates to maintain the same level of water.
See the additional notes on cooking times and what type of bottle and plug to use after the recipe.
- 300 gr. cannellini beans (about 11 ounces, or a little over half a pound)
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Profumo by Bottaccio
- 2 cloves garlic
- sage leaves
- salt and pepper
- Soak the beans the night before. Place the beans, oil, garlic, and sage into a bottle and cover with water until the bottle is 3/4 full. The bottle should be closed with a wadded cotten ball in order to allow some of the steam to filter out.
- Cook as described above (the easiest seems to be stockpot with water method …The water should simmer, do not bring to a rolling boil). Cooking times vary depending on the cooking method chosen. Once the beans are ready, discard the garlic and sage leaves and then season with some fresh olive oil, salt and some freshly ground pepper.
- add a few grains of whole pepper to the bottle with the rest of the ingredients and then discard with the garlic and sage at the end.
- add more beans if you think the seasonings are too strong, but this depends on the size of the bottle you use.
- Type of bottle to use: glass bottle such as the traditional Chianti wine bottles or a terracotta/clay jar shaped like a bottle since you need the neck to be narrow to close most of it up.
- Type of cork/plug: it is important that the bottle be covered but at the same time you need to allow some of the hot steam to escape to prevent the bottle from exploding. Some suggest using a plug made of terracotta, as this is porous and would allow steam to escape but the more practical method is to either use a loosely wadded cotton ball to cover the entrance of the bottle or to make holes in a cork plug with a sharp knife. The cotton ball seems the easiest and most practical choice.
- Cooking times: if you use a fireplace or a wood oven, it could take up to 5 to 6 hours for the beans to be cooked. If you use the metal grate underneath the bottle on your stovetop, the time should be about an hour (at medium heat). If using the stockpot cooking method described above, cook the beans until the water inside the bottle has evaporated.