Instead of an overnight soak, you can “quick brine” the beans: In step 1, combine the salt, water, and beans in a large Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans and proceed with the recipe. If you can’t find fresh French garlic sausage, Irish bangers or bratwurst may be substituted. To make a more authentic version of the dish, see our related recipe for French Pork and White Bean Casserole with Homemade Duck Confit.
1 pound dried cannellini beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over
2 medium celery ribs
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds fresh French garlic sausage (see note)
4 ounces salt pork, rinsed of excess salt
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
4 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Ground black pepper
4 large slices high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into rough pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1. Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 3 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature, 8 to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Using kitchen twine, tie together celery, bay leaf, and thyme. Place sausage and salt pork in medium saucepan and add cold water to cover by 1 inch; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes. Transfer sausages to cutting board, allow to cool slightly, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Remove salt pork from water; set aside.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Add sausage pieces and brown on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to medium bowl. Add pork shoulder and brown on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes total. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring constantly, until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Return sausage to Dutch oven; add white wine, using wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of pan. Cook until slightly reduced, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, celery bundle, and reserved salt pork.
4. Stir in broth and beans, pressing beans into even layer. If any beans are completely exposed, add up to 1 cup water to submerge (beans may still break surface of liquid). Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove celery bundle and salt pork and discard. (Alternatively, dice salt pork and return to casserole.) Using large spoon, skim fat from surface and discard. Season with salt and pepper. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake, uncovered, 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, pulse bread and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, 8 to ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to medium bowl, add parsley, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Sprinkle 1/2 cup bread-crumb mixture evenly over casserole; bake, covered, 15 minutes. Remove lid and bake 15 minutes longer. Sprinkle remaining bread-crumb mixture over top of casserole and bake until topping is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.
This is a really hearty but delicious casserole, this particular recipe is from Cook's Illustrated but I have one similar from NYTimes Cookbook as well. I always put the salt pork back into the casserole after I brown it a bit in a skillet.