Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pork and Beans


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This recipe started with an impulse-buy. I was looking in the meat case at the local super market when I noticed smoked pork shank on sale. Which is basically the back thigh of a pig just underneath its butt, or the more delectably named ham. I had never worked with shank but I thought I could make a great soup with it, because I knew a long simmer would extract some of the yummy goodness locked up in the cut.

I proceeded to the produce section and picked up what I didn’t already have in my pantry for a mirepoix, headed through the checkout and was on my way home. As I pulled out of the parking lot I had an epiphany and thought I should make pork and beans with it. So I made another stop a mile down the road at another grocery store to pick up some dried cannellini beans.

That's how many of these recipes develop though.

I have an idea of what to make and as I think more and more about it, the whole dish changes by the time I get home. Luckily, with this one there was another grocery store between the new idea and getting home.

Pork and Beans
The final dish was really tasty, the smoked shank provided a meaty hickory flavor to the broth and the beans were cooked just perfect. I fed this to my Mom and Dad for dinner and they both enjoyed it. What they didn’t enjoy was being in the same room together a couple hours after eating all the beans. Lets just say lots of air freshener was needed at their house that night.

BEHIND THIS BITE
I have really enjoyed the comfort food now that fall weather has set in here in Northern Indiana. Pork and beans, tomato soup with grilled cheese, and two types of chili are just a few of the things I’ve made in just the last couple of weeks. (some will appear here eventually)

It's hard to believe Halloween is here and next week I will start the annual march toward Thanksgiving. I have to make all my Turkey day dishes ahead so that they are ready to be published before the holiday. This is the fourth time around for me and the food column, so this year I’m planning to go bigger than ever for the annual event. By the time the actual holiday gets here I’m sure I’ll be tired of all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

Eat well, cook often ...

THE RECIPE
Pork and Beans

Serves 4 to 6; 4 hours
1 lb Cannellini beans
1 C Red onion diced
1/2 C Carrot diced
1/2 C Celery diced
1 Tbs Garlic minced
8 C Chicken broth
2 lbs Smoked pork shank

Quick soak beans
In a pot over high heat cover beans with 1-inch of water and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and let beans soak for at least 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans in a colander then set aside.

Make base, simmer
In a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat sauté onion, celery and carrot in a little olive oil until soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add garlic and cook one minute more. Add broth, pork shank and beans to pot. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, or until beans and pork are tender.

Finish
Remove pork from pot and shred, discard bones, Return shredded pork to pot and simmer for 30 minutes more. Remove from heat, spoon into bowls and serve.

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