- 1/2 pound dried borlotti beans, pinto or red kidney beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups minced yellow onions
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 4 small smoked pork chops, or 8 ounces other smoked pork, such as smoked ham hock or smoked ham cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 bay leaf, plus 1
- 6 to 8 cups water
- 4 ounces pancetta, chopped
- 1/2 pound sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces prosciutto di San Daniele, finely diced
- Polenta Croutons
- Extra-virgin olive oil, topping
- Place the beans in a large bowl. Cover with cold water by 2 inches and soak overnight. Drain.
- In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 bay leaf and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the pork chops and cook, turning, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beans and enough water to cover (6 to 7 cups) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.
- With a heavy wooden spoon or potato masher, mash about half of the beans against the sides of the pot. Continue cooking until very tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in another pot, cook the pancetta over medium heat until the fat is rendered, about 6 minutes. Add the sauerkraut, 1 cup of water, the remaining bay leaf, the sugar, peppercorns, and salt. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender and aromatic, about 30 minutes.
- Add the sauerkraut mixture to the beans and stir well to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Ladle into 4 deep bowls, giving each person 1 pork chop. Place several fried croutons in each bowl and top with the diced prosciutto. Grind freshly ground black pepper over the top and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve.
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