Fagioli grassi (Fat beans) for Carnival

Fagioli grassi (Fat beans) for Carnival

Fat beans, or fagioli grassi in Italian, are cooked as part of Carnival celebrations in Ivrea.

Serves 4-6


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 large onions, peeled and coarsely chopped

  • 300g (10 ½oz) dried borlotti beans, soaked in cold water for 24 hours

  • 4-6 pieces of pork belly skin, each about 12-16cm (4 ½ – 6 inches), fat removed

  • 3 springs of fresh rosemary

  • freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

  • 6 pork cooking sausages

  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil to medium, and fry the onions until softened, about ten minutes. Drain the beans and add them to the onions with 2 litres (3 ½ pints/ 8 cups) of fresh cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for about 10 minutes.

Lay the pieces of pork belly skin on a clean work surface, and sprinkle each with the needles from 2 of the rosemary sprigs, the black pepper, nutmeg and parsley. Roll up like a sausage, away from you, and secure three of four times with pieces of butcher’s string. Add these little rolls to the beans, and cook at a simmer for 2 hours.

Now add the sausages, tomato puree and the final sprig of rosemary, and cook for another hour. Test to see if the pork skin and beans are soft; if not, cook for a little longer.

Add a little water if too dry, and some salt and pepper if required. Cut the pork belly skin rolls into slices, the sausages too if you like and eat everything warm.