This is a very simple, family-style meal called escudella de mongetes I carbassa, which literally means “big bowl of beans and squash.” It is quite representative of traditional Catalan home cooking in that it is actually rather bland most of the flavor coming from the meat. It’s an attractive dish, and looks very white. To spice it up for contemporary American tastes, all you need to do is add freshly ground black pepper, which I have left out of the ingredients list to maintain authenticity. A tablespoon would be about right. Traditionally; a Catalan cook would throw a whole cooked or cured ham bone in the stew you can replicate the same by using a prosciutto bone.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
1¼ cups (about ¾ pound) dried white haricot beans, picked over and rinsed
2 quarts waters
2 pounds various types of pork meat, such as shoulder, ribs, and sausage; trimmed of any large pieces of fat and cut into chunks
1 piece prosciutto or ham bone (about ¼ pound) or one 1/8 inch thick slice prosciutto
2 large onions, cut up
1 pound peeled and seeded pumpkin, cut into chunks
½ cup medium grain rice
1 tablespoon salt
1. Place the beans in a stew pot with the water, pork meat, prosciutto bone, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring to just below a boil, reduce the heat to very low, using a diffuser if necessary, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the onions and pumpkin and continue cooking at a simmer until the beans are almost breaking apart and the meat is very tender, about ½ hour more.
2. When everything is tender, add the rice and salt and cook until the rice is tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve immediately.