Here's a little something for those of you tiring from our recent meatless and low-sodium posts. It's still Winter here in the Northeast, and while I haven't gotten around to cooking a cassoulet yet this season, today we're eating the next best thing, pork and beans.
As much as I love cassoulet, coming up with all of the traditional ingredients can be tricky, and a bit pricey what with all the duck and specialty sausages required. If you are hankering for a traditional French cassoulet, I highly recommend D'artagnan's cassoulet kit, if not, stick with me here for a pork laden, Americanised version of the classic French dish.
This lovely treat is a breeze to pull together, though it does require quite a few hours of hands-off time so make sure you plan ahead. First, the dried beans need to soak overnight, and second, a low-slow cooking time of 4 hours is needed to meld all of these great flavors together and render the pork shoulder melt-in-your-mouth tender. The combination of maple syrup, bourbon and tomato paste bathe this dish in a cloak of sweet umami goodness that will have you racing through your first serving to ensure you can get a second. Serve it with a crisp green salad and some warm, crusty bread.
Love the pig – Steve
Maple-Bourbon Pork and Beans
by: Steve Dunn, adapted from a recipe by Williams-Sonoma
- 3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1" cubes
- 3 pounds chorizo, or other spicy pork sausage, cut into 2" lengths
- 1/2 pound of bacon, chopped
- 3 yellow onions, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 14 1/2 ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
- 1 1/2 pound cannellini beans, soaked overnight and drained
- 4 cups chicken stock
- Chopped fresh parsley and Crumbs Yo! for garnish: for the crumbs yo, in a saute pan heat 2 tablespoons EVOO over medium heat and toast 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until golden brown. Spread on a plate to cool. Keep for 2 days in the fridge, or a long time in the freezer.
- Heat your oven to 300℉.
- Heat a slick of canola oil in a large dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Season the cubed pork with salt and pepper and when the oil is hot, and working in batches, brown the cubes on all sides. Remove the browned pork to a bowl. Repeat with the sausage pieces, removing them to the bowl when nicely browned. Finally, cook the bacon until it has rendered its fat and is nice and crispy. When done, add the bacon to the rest of the browned meat.
- Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan and lower the heat to medium. Add the onion, celery and carrots to the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes, add the garlic, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaf and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the bourbon and allow to cook for another 2 minutes to cook-off the alcohol.
- Add the maple syrup, canned tomatoes, chicken stock and drained beans. Stir well, then add back all the meat, nestling it into the beans. Place the lid on your dutch oven and put the whole thing in the oven for 4 hours.
- When fully cooked, remove from the oven and stir to redistribute all the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as required. Spoon onto plates and top with a sprinkling of Crumbs Yo! and some freshly chopped parsley.