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


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil to medium, and fry the onions until softened, about ten minutes.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Add these little rolls to the beans, and cook at a simmer for 2 hours.

  5. 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.

  6. Add a little water if too dry, and some salt and pepper if required.

  7. Cut the pork belly skin rolls into slices, the sausages too if you like and eat everything warm.

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