Tag Archives: salt pork

Some Serious Baked Beans

I may be a slow learner, but this is the third time I made baked beans this week. The first batch was amazing, but I wasn’t following the recipe closely. Last night’s were a bummer, but today’s batch of beans will be a triumph.

One of my favorite treats happens to be baked beans. Most of the time I’ll punch up a can of Bush’s, but I have made baked kidney beans a couple of times.

I know, it sounds awkward like the time my dad tried to tell me about…well, you know…the birds and the bees? I was fourteen and I think he actually talked about birds and bees.

He certainly didn’t teach me anything I haven’t heard in school. The kidney beans are more enjoyable than that distant memory, but they have nothing on the traditional navy beans.

Baked pinto beans are another story, though. I always have pinto beans on hand and the skin is a little tougher than the navy beans, but their subtle flavor and creamy texture allow the mingling of sugars and pig fats to take center stage.

This recipe is similar to a recipe I found on Food Network, but I think the small alterations I made are quite enjoyable.

Ingredients

3 cups pinto beans, sorted and soaked overnight
1 onion, chopped
2 slices salt pork, chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 link smoked sausage, quartered and chopped (andouille works nicely)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
1 teaspoon Hatch chili powder
1 teaspoon Gebhardt chili powder
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chicken base
3 Mezzetta peperoncini peppers

Method

Sauté meat in a cast iron Dutch oven to render the delicious fat.

Add onions and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent. Season with black pepper and Tony Chachere’s.

Add both chili powders, tomato paste, brown sugar, molasses, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, yellow mustard, chicken base, and peperoncini peppers.

Add beans and four cups of water to combine.

Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and simmer on the stove for about 90 minutes. Stir occasionally and add water as needed.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Remove the lid and place in oven for the last hour of cooking so it thickens up as only baked beans can do.

Salt to taste and enjoy by itself or maybe with some nice greens.

I dunno if you can call them baked beans with only an hour in the oven, but last night I baked them for five hours and they tasted sad and unfulfilled. Today’s beans were delicious.

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Mustard Greens…And Don’t Toss That Potlikker

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My initial title for this piece was going to be Infernal greens because there was no way something so bitter smelling could turn out so sweet.

I have spent a lifetime avoiding greens. Sometimes my mom would make them, but I can’t remember eating them. It was one of the rare foods that I wasn’t coerced into eating. I think the other one was sauerkraut.

Two years ago I ate dinner at Emeril’s in New Orleans. Believe me, it wasn’t on my dime. I don’t think I can ever afford that.

Our host ordered a couple of appetizers. I remember the sausage presented neatly on a small bed of turnip greens. I decided I would try a bite and was impressed at how delicious they were! They actually had a texture of chewing tobacco without the full-bodied Redman flavor.

I haven’t eaten greens since.

My wife brought home some mustard greens yesterday, so in the spirit of frugality, I decided I would cook them. It took an hour to clean the greens and they smelled horrible. What is the deal with cruciferous vegetables and their stink? I’m told most people eat with their eyes. Not me. I eat with my nose. If my nose gives it thumbs down, it’s not edible.

Once I had everything cleaned and chopped, I began my greens experiment. I had read numerous recipes, but the two that were the most helpful belonged to Emeril’s (I’d like to get a repeat performance of the last ones I ate) and Miz Chef. I’m writing down my recipe so I can share it if it tastes good and to rail against it if it’s like eating a pot of rat poison.

Ingredients:
2-3 pounds mustard greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices salt pork, chopped
2 ounces Tasso, chopped
1 onion
1 tablespoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
2 teaspoons molasses

Method:
Wash and chop stems out of the greens. Add meat and olive oil to cook and to render fat.

Add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent. Add cayenne, black pepper, vinegar and molasses. Mix well to combine.

Begin adding greens. As they wilt, add more until all are in the pot.

Add water until greens are just covered. Partially cover pot with lid and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, stirring occasionally.

Add salt to taste.

Next time I’m going to cook up a bigger batch to render more broth, or potlikker. It’s better than the greens and they rock.