dried Great Northern Beans
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsps rubbed sage leaves
1 tsp. finely chopped dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. fresh pork fat
2 TB olive oil
1 lb. lean pork shoulder cut into 1/2" pieces
1 large onion cut into 1/2" dice
4 bay leaves
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium rib celery, thinly sliced
7 cups home made chicken broth or low-sodium canned broth
1 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese such as Romano
1/4 cup finely minced chives
Pick over the beans, discarding any stones. Soak overnight in cool water to cover by 2". Drain and set aside.
Combine the garlic, sage, rosemary, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Thinly slice the pork fat to make 4 pieces each about 3 x 2 1/2" in size. Sprinkle about 1/2 of the garlic mixture over the slices of fat, dividing evenly. Roll up each slice and tie with string in 2 places. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F.
Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole over medium heat. Add the rolls and sauté until they lose color and become somewhat translucent and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. It is a good idea to use a splatter guard for this. Remove the rolls and set them aside on a plate or paper towels. Add the pork shoulder to the drippings in the casserole, turning the pieces to brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and the remaining garlic mixture. Sauté, stirring, until the onion softens, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the beans, bay leaves, carrots, celery, reserved pork fat and broth to the casserole. Remove from the heat, cover tightly and place in the oven. Bake for 1 hour without removing the cover. Reduce the heat to 300 deg. F. and cook until the beans are very tender and the soup is very thick, about 2 hours more. Remove and discard the pork fat and bay leave.
Add 1/2 cup of the grated cheese to the soup and mix. Combine the rest of the grated cheese with the chives in a small bowl. Serve the soup in warmed bowls with equal amounts of the cheese/chive mixture on top of each serving.Serves 6 to 8.