White Bean and Italian Sausage Chili

INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage (I prefer chicken)
5 ounces pancetta, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cups dry cannellini beans, rinsed (you could use 2 cans of beans instead, which will lower the cooking time to about an hour)
1 can corn
1 can chopped green chiles
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano leaves
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
salt, pepper, white pepper, montreal steak seasoning to taste

2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock (you only need about 3-4 cups if you use canned beans)

Garnish:
sour cream
1/2 cup scallions, cut into strips
1/2 cup fried leeks*

DIRECTIONS:
Take sausage out of its casing if it has any and brown it in a large stock pot over medium-high heat in a drizzle of olive oil. Reduce heat to low and cook through, about 8-10 minutes. Remove sausage from pan and cool.

In the same pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and pancetta. Render pancetta over low heat until crisp, about 7-9 minutes.

Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and saute until golden, about 3 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Return sausage to the chili mixture in the pan. Lower heat and simmer until beans are tender, at least 90 minutes (only about 35-45 minutes if canned beans are used).

Serve each bowl with a dollop of sour cream, some scallion strips and fried leeks.

Fried Leeks:
2 leeks (white parts only) cleaned, trimmed, and cut into fine threads
1/4 cup olive oil
coarse sea salt to taste

Bring water to a boil and blanch leeks for 5-8 seconds. Strain and squeeze excess moisture from leeks, patting dry with paper towels. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add leeks and fry until they just start to turn golden brown. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

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