Lunchbreak: Italian rice with borlotti beans and dried salami

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John Coletta - Founding Chef / Partner at Quartino Ristorante & Wine Bar


626 N. State St., Chicago

Check out the website for more information about Chef's new cookbook.


Rosé Wine Bash

Date: Sunday, May 20, 2018

Time: 12 -3 p.m.

Cost: $30 per person.

Guests are invited to sip on 70+ different varieties of the summer wine paired with signature Quartinobites. Tickets are limited and available now at


Rice from Vercelli with Lardo, Red Wine, Borlotti Beans, and Dried Salami - from Chef Coletta's new cookbook


In 1949, Dino De Laurentiis’s Academy Award–nominated film Riso Amaro (“Bitter Rice”) immortalized the life of le mondine, the female rice workers who painstakingly planted, weeded, and hand-harvested northern Italy’s rice fields. The film stars Silvana Mangano as la mondina, who befriends two petty thieves and plans to help one of them carry out a rice heist. Love, lust, murder, and suicide ensue before the credits roll. Although Silvana’s portrayal was criticized by some for being oversexualized, her role did bring to light the difficult working conditions le mondine endured. From May through July, these women stood daily in cold water and under hot sun, prey to leeches and mosquitos. They lived during the summer in dormitories on the rice plantations and their main sustenance was this dish—a bean, rice, and sausage medley known as panissa—cooked in the open courtyard. In Vercelli (the rice capital of Italy) at La Tenuta Colombara, a historic farm and modern rice-producing facility, this dish is still prepared to honor the memory of le mondine. Originally, the dish was prepared with saluggia beans and a soft, confit-cured salam d’la Duja, but neither of these ingredients are readily available outside of Italy. In their place, flavorful borlotti beans and crumbled salami (such as an aged Ciauscolo or young Strolghino di Culatello) make tasty substitutions.



With the rich, savory profile of this rice dish, an intense Nebbiolo-based wine would be perfect. A spicy Barbaresco from the Piedmont, loaded with mouth-watering sour cherry flavors, would keep the palate excited for each next bite. Try Produttori del Barbaresco for a great everyday option.


1 cup dried borlotti beans, soaked in 4 cups water overnight in the refrigerator

4 cups vegetable broth

½ pound young salami (see suggestions above), casing removed (if possible), crumbled or chopped to make about 2 lightly packed cups

¹⁄3 cup lightly packed, finely chopped lardo

1 medium white or yellow onion, finely chopped to make 1 cup

1¼ cups Carnarolisuperfinorice, preferably Acquerello

1 cup dry Italian red wine

Transfer the soaked beans and their soaking liquid to a large heavy-gauge saucepan or pot.

(with lid handy). Add the vegetable broth and salami. Heat to boiling over medium heat. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and cooked through, about 1 hour. You will have 6 cups liquid remaining with the beans when you are done with this step. Remove from the heat and keep warm while you prepare the rice.

In a medium heavy-gauge sauté pan or skillet over low heat, melt the lardo. When the lardo begins to sizzle and release its fat, add the onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and translucent but not browned. It’s okay to add 2 tablespoons water to help the onion soften without browning, just be sure the water has all evaporated before moving to the next step. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes, until the kernels are well coated. Pour in the red wine and simmer, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Scoop all of this into the bean pot. Simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, until the rice is tender, but not mushy. The mixture will be porridge-like, but still a bit loose. Remove the pot from the heat; cover with a lid. Let rest for 10 minutes. Place a wooden spoon upright in the center of the pan. If the spoon begins to lean over just a bit, the dish is perfectly cooked and ready to be served. (If still too loose, cover and let set up a bit more.) Traditionally, if there are any little crispy bits of rice and sausage at the bottom of the pot they are served last, by special request.

LARDO: Very fatty pig’s back bacon cured with salt, pepper, rosemary, and garlic. Lardo can be thinly sliced for antipasto, but more often it’s used in cooking. Can be purchased from a butcher.

 Vegetable Broth:


1 carrot, coarsely chopped to make 1 cup

1 small stalk celery, coarsely chopped to make 1 cup

1 small white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped to make 1 cup

1 bay leaf, preferably fresh

8 whole peppercorns (1 teaspoon)

In a heavy-gauge stockpot over medium heat, combine the carrot, celery, onion, bay leaf, and peppercorns and stir. Add 12 cups water, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 2½ to 3 hours. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, reserving the cooked vegetables for another use. Cool the broth to room temperature. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.

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