Ham hock, borlotti bean and pasta minestra with battuto lardo

AT A GLANCE

  • Serves 4 people

  • 1 smoked ham hock (about 1kg)
  • 2 each onions, carrots, celery stalks and baby fennel bulbs, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ½ quantity whole egg pasta dough
  • 400 gm podded borlotti beans (about 550gm unpodded)
  • 400 gm canned cherry tomatoes
  • 300 gm cavolo nero (about 1 bunch), shredded
  • To serve: finely grated parmesan, extra-virgin olive oil and oregano
  •  
  • Battuto lardo
  • 75 gm lardo, finely chopped, at room temperature (see note)
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp each coarsely chopped thyme and oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
01   Bring hock, onion, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, chilli and 2.5 litres cold water to the simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce heat to low-medium, half cover with a lid and simmer until meat falls from the bone (1½-2 hours; top with extra water to keep hock covered if necessary).
02   Meanwhile, cut pasta dough into rough 5cm squares, place in a single layer on a lightly floured tray and stand until slightly dried (1 hour).
03   Meanwhile, for battuto lardo, process ingredients in a food processor until a smooth purée forms (1-2 minutes), season to taste and set aside.
04   Remove hock with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool slightly. Add borlotti beans and tomatoes to pan, season to taste and simmer until beans are tender (25-30 minutes). Coarsely shred ham (discard skin, bone and sinew), return to broth with cavolo nero, simmer until tender (8-10 minutes) and season to taste.
05   Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large saucepan of generously salted boiling water until just al dente (1-2 minutes), remove with a slotted spoon and add to soup with oil and battuto lardo to taste. Serve hot scattered with parmesan and oregano, with extra battuto lardo.
Note Lardo is salted, cured pork back-fat; it's available from Italian delicatessens and Italian butchers.

This recipe is from the April 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.
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