Pork and Beans

After getting distracted by 73 Questions videos, starting with this one with Daisy Ridley, I am back again with food. 

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December was filled with travel and holiday craziness so I never found the chance to post a recipe over the holiday season. But, here are two catch-up posts about some things that happened at the end of 2017. My Christmas decorations are put away, holiday music playlists are moved to the bottom of my Spotify account and only one string of twinkling LED lights and two poinsettias remain.

So, here we are at the beginning of January and as I've written about before, I'm not one to diet with the new calendar year. The idea of counting calories, recording food and constantly checking on my weight makes me anxious so I generally choose to stick to my same routine of balance which means I can still have dessert at 8:45 p.m. if I eat my fruits and vegetables too. 

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January is all cold (by California standards) and still dark so I agree with Molly in that it's all about the comfort food this time of year. Who wants to munch on a bowl of salad when there are warming and hearty foods to be had! We'll save the salads for the heat of summer. 

To be honest, I made these Pork and Beans almost two months ago but they are definitely still applicable in these winter months. And I have finally finished them. This recipe makes a lot, so naturally I froze half of it in small containers when I would need them the most. The addition of fresh herbs, like thyme, really make a difference in the flavor. I like it almost like a soup as the pork and beans mix together to create a broth that is half bean-y and half pork-y. 

I was first introduced to this recipe by my Auntie Julie who loosely followed a recipe from Rancho Gordo Beans which is no longer to be found on the interwebs. It is very simply beans, pork, mirepoix, broth and herbs. I am a fan of meat, like pork shoulder/butt (which is the same thing) that gets all tender and falls apart when cooked but this could also work with a leaner cut like pork tenderloin. As for the beans, I still had some leftover cranberry beans from the last time I made this but any heirloom-type bean would also work. Soaking them the night before is highly recommended. I've not had much luck with beans getting creamy with any quick method but then again I haven't tried it that many times. So do what you do best when it comes to soaking or not soaking your beans.

The next day, sear the pork, add the veggies, herbs and drained beans, cover with broth and let simmer until the meat is tender falls apart. This is best shared with anyone who wants to come over and warm up from the cold. I guarantee there will be plenty to pass around. 

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Back to a rotation of 73 Questions, The Crown and figure skating. 


Pork and Beans

Yields: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cranberry beans (or other beans of your choice)
  • Water to cover
  • 2½-3 lb. pork shoulder or butt.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small or 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 8 cups chicken broth

Steps

The night before, place cranberry beans in a large bowl. Cover with water and an extra inch to spare for when the beans expand. Soak overnight or at least 8 hours. 

The next day, drain beans and set aside. Pat pork shoulder/butt dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Be sure to cover all of the surface with the seasoning. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. When the oil starts to smoke, add pork shoulder/butt to the pot. Sear for about 5 minutes each side or until each side is nicely browned and caramelized. Once seared, remove to a plate and set aside.

Add diced onion, celery ribs, and carrots to the pot and sauté, until slightly brown and fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Scrape the bits off the bottom as you can. Add in garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Pour in 1 cup of chicken broth to deglaze the pot. Continue to scrape the bottom of the pan until all the browned bits are released. Add pork shoulder/butt and drained beans back into the pot and pour in the rest of the chicken broth.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and allow to simmer gently for about 2 hours or until the pork shoulder/butt is falling apart and beans and veggies are tender. Remove pork shoulder/butt and shred meat with two forks. Add it back into the pot and stir to combine.

Serve hot with toasted bread and butter. Keep in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for several months.