No ordinary Pork and Beaner – A pretty punchy stew.

Pork and bean stew (14 of 15)The expression ‘pork and beaner’ brings to mind a very grim time in modern history. Depression era USA had huge unemployment with transient populations doing what they could to keep body and soul together. Any of you young enough to wonder “What is the old git on about now?” should read some John Steinbeck to get an insight into that depressing world. Back then, a ‘Pork and Beaner” was a boxer, usually old, unskilled and destined for a painful bruising, who would fight for a plate of food. Often the staple, pork and beans.

Now, I enjoy a good punch up every now and again. Though, it’s a while since I have pulled on the gloves to settle a score. This concept was introduced for a very brief period in my junior school. I got one go at it and won convincingly, knocking six shades out of my classmate. In the intervening decades, we have become a lot more civilised and tend not to encourage the little ones bash the heads off each other. However, I digress. Back to the issue at hand, my knockout take on Pork and Beans.

Everything you will need for a healthy 'Pork and Beaner', modern style.

Everything you will need for a healthy ‘Pork and Beaner’, modern style.

I was encouraged by a recent Spanish style recipe that included butter beans. This time I thought we should go a few extra rounds and also include cannellini beans, red kidney beans, aduki beans and, to prove that I am not a racist, chick peas. The rest of the ingredients are as follows:

  • 1.5 kilos of pork pieces
  • 100 grammes or so of pancetta
  • 1  Portuguese smoked chorizo sausage*
  • 3 onions
  • 2 tins of whole tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small tin of tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • half a tablespoon of flour for dusting
  • 5 tins of mixed beans / peas (you decide on the mixture)
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Half a litre (or a pint) of excellent chicken stock

* The Portuguese chorizo was a present brought back by my good friend Rodrigo, who hails from those parts. I wouldn’t recommend challenging him to slip on the gloves as he stands a good six and a half feet tall (and nearly as wide) and enjoys a physical contest. 

Round One
Season the flour with the salt and pepper. Roll the pork in this and fry it in a large casserole dish to brown it.

The pork gets a good coating of seasoned flour.

The pork gets a good coating of seasoned flour.

While this is going on, chop the onions nice and small. Then do likewise with the garlic.

Multitasking. Slicing the onions while the first batch of pork browns.

Multitasking. Slicing the onions while the first batch of pork browns.

Round Two
Slice the chorizo and pancetta.

The really delicious smoked chorizo was almost too tasty to put in the stew. Almost.

The really delicious smoked chorizo was almost too tasty to put in the stew. Almost.

A totally gratuitous slicing shot. I could not resist it.

A totally gratuitous slicing shot. I could not resist it.

Then fry these in the same casserole, to release some fat and flavour.

The pouring shot. This probably contains everything a blog photo needs. Meat and pouring.

The pouring shot. This probably contains everything a blog photo needs. Meat and pouring.

Then add the onions and garlic. (There would never be enough fat in these to fry the seasoned pork, in case you were wondering).

Round Three
When the onions have been softened up, (like the unfortunate ‘Pork and Beaner’ of old), add back the browned pork and start working in the flavours. First reconstitute the homemade stock. Or, add a chicken stock cube to a pint of water if you must.

Proving that I made my own stock from my reduced chicken stock.

Proving that I made my own stock from my reduced chicken stock.

Then add the tomatoes.

Given that we have to add 5 tins of beans (and peas), that pot is looking a bit small.

Given that we have to add 5 tins of beans (and peas), that pot is looking a bit small.

Add the tomato purée.

Add the tomato purée, Make a decision about the size of the casserole.

Add the tomato purée, Make a decision about the size of the casserole.

Next, add the chicken stock.

Crunch time. I was forced to use a bigger casserole.

Crunch time. I was forced to use a bigger casserole.

At this stage, if you used a medium casserole, you will be up against the ropes while you realise that you need to use a bigger casserole, if all those beans are going to fit.

Round Four
Transfer everything to a bigger casserole and then add the paprika and bay leaf.

PLENTY of room for all the beans now. What an idiot I am for using the smaller one.

PLENTY of room for all the beans now. What an idiot I am for using the smaller one.

Let this stew for about an hour. This will give the flavours plenty of time to get acquainted. While this is going on, open the tins and rinse the beans and peas.

That's an awful lot of beans and peas. Good thing I used a big pot!

That’s an awful lot of beans and peas. Good thing I used a big pot!

Pour the beans and peas into the stew.

Any excuse for a pouring shot....

Any excuse for a pouring shot….

Let the beans and peas warm through.

Round Five
Serve the stew to any Pork and Beaners that may be hanging around ringside. They will appreciate it. 

This is really worth working up a sweat over. Even if you don't do it in the boxing ring.

This is really worth working up a sweat over. Even if you don’t do it in the boxing ring.

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  • That looks mighty fine, Conor. Just the ticket as winter approaches here in Northern Europe. You’ve also gone to town on the props this week. Knockout!

    • I borrowed the gloves from my ‘Kung Fu’ daughter. They certainly help. I threw in the towel myself.

  • I normally say to hell with pork and beans, but not this… I would eat this! The inclusion of chorizo must be heavenly!

    • Thanks Debbie, that and the bacon make a difference, for sure.

  • Great photos Conor and what a meal, not just good for the boxing ring …. but waiting for you after skiing the slopes on a cold winter day.

    • Thanks Gerlinde, a real winter warmer, for sure.

  • Very good – I’m reminded somewhat of the campfire scene in Blazing Saddles 😉

    • Thanks MD,you may not be wrong about that.

  • With such recipe you don’t risk going anaemic 😉 – It looks wonderful!

  • This looks heavenly. I love the smoked paprika with the meats and your boxing gloves!

    • Thanks Amanda. A bit more staging than usual in this one. All good fun.

  • This looks really good Conor! I now know what to cook up with all dem beans in the cupboard! Have the porkie too! ^..^

    • Great Barb. Get on with it and we can pit the two against each other.

      • You know that I always love a challenge Conor! Remember the burgers? 🙂 Give me a bit, and I will be making this! Sans the chickpeas…Do not like those mealy bits, although my husband thinks they are terrific…Have a bit of a twist in mind…with your main recipe…Are you ready?

  • I also seem to remember a good school punch up cleared the air. It was a civilised affair but inevitably it always simply involved both protagonists grappling on the ground with their Parka jackets over their heads. Love the photo style Conor on this one and a great looking dish….

    • Too true Phil, little harm done except to the ego in those school affairs. I enjoyed shooting this.

  • That pot must be like the tardis – all that stuff went in. Like the touch with the gloves in the background. My two have boxing gloves – it worries me that I don’t know how to box and they do. Play-fighting doesn’t really happen round here anymore there is a real danger I could come off worse.

    • They are Taekwondo gloves. My elf sized daughter can kick higher than her own height with frightening accuracy. I live in fear…

      • I confess I tried judo. Once. But the first half hour of the lesson involved warm up exercises that put me off for life. That and a fellow trainee told me he was there so he could learn how to do over people he didn’t like at his local more effectively. I mean seriously…

  • Lovely looking dish, just the thing for these colder nights.

    • Thanks Linda. In France. More intelligent replies anon.

  • Lovely looking Chorizo!

  • That is a wonderful pork stew you’ve made, Conor. Well done! I would eat that in a heartbeat if presented to me. 🙂

  • I was an easy child to feed. A bit of canned pork and beans for lunch was fine with me — if pasta was off the menu. Had Mom served your dish, she just might have changed my pasta-loving ways.
    It’s a great dish, Conor.

    • Thanks John. A good thing your mother kept to the pasta.

  • Now that’s a good idea! A crowd have threatened to descend on me next weekend . . . would not need too much time or notice to put that together for lots of soul and oomph . . . and if someone wants to have a second drink before lunch, methinks this dish would smile – so would my current pantry shelves with at least three tins of each of your beans staring accusingly at me 🙂 ! Oops, the weather must be cooling: long sleeves!!!

    • It’s a great way of clearing the cupboard and pleasing a crowd. Give it a go Eha.

  • This looks so good, but I think it needs a new name! It is a far cry from what I think of pork and beans…maybe you could translate it into another language so it had a fancier name?

    • Then it has to be the French “fèves au lard”. Not so much boxing fun with that one though.

  • Great dish, Conor, with excellent photography including props and pouring shots! Are you caressing the flour onto the pork? 😉

    • Massaging, rather than caressing. Though I’m sure the pork doesn’t know the difference.

      • Conor, check out that photo again and then tell me whether it is caressing or massaging what is depicted…

  • Best pork and beans I’ve seen! Though the bit about having to fight for your food is so sad. Dignity shouldn’t be lost to eat.

    • Back in school, the only way to hold on to one’s dignity was to put up the ‘dukes’. Mind you, the potential consequences were more around getting caught fighting rather than any damage that might be done in the fight.

      • How times have changed. My kids worry a lot less than I over that stuff. My defense was to stand there and not react. They thought i was being tough so they would give up. I was actually just frozen to the spot. But hey whatever works!

  • Nice job, Conor. That smoked chorizo is one excellent looking sausage! Been awhile since I cooked pork and beans (which more often ought to be called “canned baked beans with hot dogs.” This looks delicious. Thanks. Groovy props by the way. Ken

    • Thanks Ken. I got lucky on the props, what with a fighting daughter and all. The stew was tasty and has the benefit of being very good for one. I really enjoyed the shoot. I suspect that comes through in the final photos.

  • i can’t wait my homemade chorizo done, so i can made this kicking spicy pork stew!!!

    • I’d love to see your version Dedi. Though, I know there would be lots of chili in there.

  • My kind of stew. So rich!

    • Thanks Rosemary, easy to put together too. That has to be one of the big benefits.

  • You look like a DJ in the flouring shot. Effing classic.
    That’s a damn fine looking stew, too, my friend 🙂

  • Wow! I’m in love with chorizo photos! They are beautiful! and the sausage itself looks so yummy! 😀

    • They were very tasty. It’s hard to get anything as good in Ireland.

  • Conor – I was putting together the grocery list to make this dish. How many cans of beans? I did not see this in your ingredient list… Thanks! ^..^

    • What an idiot I am. I used five tins. Mixed, as in the photo. Cannellini, Kidney, Chick Peas, Butter Beans and Aduki. I must fix the list now.

      • I am looking forward to making this. I went to the store to get something else because I was not sure. Stay tuned for cheese twists, a lovely pork loin dinner, cheesy potato wedges, and a citrus short rib recipes….The weather has been hot so I have been playing in the kitchen!

        • Excellent. Sorry I was late, but, it is a very forgiving dish that can stand any sort of mix-up.

          • I am looking forward to making it. OK to link to you?

          • Please do. I need all the traffic I can get!

          • Will do!

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