Monday, December 19, 2016

Heirloom Pork, Pork, Pork and Beans

Last week was dedicated to my annual Great Cookie Bakeoff. I have to time it to be done on a Sunday or Monday at the latest so that all cookies are shipped and received within 2-3 days. That way, no one receives stale cookies. I didn't ship nearly as much out this year and I did not send any canned goodies.

I have barely canned a thing this year except for a batch or two of salsa, pickles, and my usual hoarding of crushed tomatoes over the summer. I KNOW!

Anyway, I'm here to talk about cassoulets, particularly one that I made from a Rancho Gordo Beans recipe.

Take note, if anyone ever makes you a cassoulet, they love you, I mean REALLY love you, because a cassoulet is nothing to take lightly.

I made this work of art last week and it was worth every ounce of effort. It took 2 days to prep and 5 + hours to cook in total, but the end result was sublime. There could be nothing better on a cold, winter night than to tuck yourself into this with a glass of Chard.

Heirloom Pork, Pork, Pork and Beans
Recipe Source: Rancho Gordo

1 pound Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Beans (or any flavorful bean...I used flageolet)
1 1/2 to 2 pounds bone-in Pork Butt (Shoulder)
5 slices Uncured Rustic Bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips (lardons)
4 links Rustic Pork Sausage, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces (I used Andouille)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 large stalks of celery, coarsely chopped
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
14 ounce can diced tomatoes with the juice
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
5 branches fresh thyme (I used 1 tsp dried)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
2 cups panko crumbs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Seasoning the pork butt: Remove the bone from the pork butt and cut the meat into 1 1/2-to-2 inch chunks. Season all sides of the meat with salt and pepper, and refrigerate it (uncovered) for a day.

Soaking the beans: Put the beans in a bowl and cover with 2-inches cold water. Soak the beans for 4 to 6 hours, or overnight. 

Begin the cooking: Put the bacon into a cold 5 quart enamel cast iron or other heavyweight Dutch oven and place the pan over medium heat. Cook the bacon from for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the fat has rendered and the bacon is just beginning to color. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a bowl and set aside.

Mix the mirepoix vegetables together and reserve 1/2 cup for cooking the beans. Add the remaining vegetables to the pan and sauté in the bacon fat, stirring from time to time for about 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened and are just beginning to color. Stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Add the wine, thyme and bay leaf. Tuck the pork chunks into the vegetables, leaving the top half of the meat exposed and put (uncovered) in the oven to cook for about 2 hours.

Cooking the beans (while the meat is in the oven):
Heat a medium size enamel cast iron or other heavyweight Dutch oven.  Add the oil and the reserved mirepoix and saute about 10 minutes to soften. Add the beans and their soaking water, adding additional water to reach 2-inches above the beans. Place over medium-high heat, cover and bring to a rolling boil. Continue to boil rapidly for 10 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary.

Place the lid slightly ajar (to allow evaporation), and reduce the heat to cook the beans at a gentle simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Add additional water as needed to be sure the beans are covered by 2 inches of water at all times; use the lid to control the heat. After about 1 hour, the smell of beans should be pronounced and you can salt the beans at this point. Add 11/2 tablespoons of salt. Continue to cook until the beans are just tender.

Completing the dish: Once the pork is tender, remove the pieces from the pan. Remove the thyme and bay leaf and discard. Put the cooked vegetables and any juices into a food processor. Add the smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons salt, a few grinds of black pepper and lemon juice and puree. Drain the beans and put them in the Dutch oven. Stir in the bacon pieces and the vegetable puree.
Nestle the pork meat and sausages into the beans, leaving the top half of the meat exposed and return to the oven (uncovered) to cook for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the panko crumbs in a bowl and stir in the butter. Remove the pot from the oven and sprinkle the panko over the top. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes or until the crumbs are a rich golden brown.

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