Canned beans? Yes. I grew up with the stuff. There were always cans of pork and beans in our house when I was young. My father loved it. I couldn’t understand why. How could anyone love beans in sauce? That was what came out of the can. Beans and a single piece of pork fat.
In time, I learned that were was a fix. Cook plenty of pork first, dump in the beans (and the miniscule pork fat) from a can and cook until the beans were heated through. That was how canned pork and beans could be palatable.
But that was just the beginning. As I learned to cook better and as my spice vocabulary grew bigger, I realized that there were other ingredients that could transform canned beans into a really delectable stew.
First, a good flavor base. Chopped onion and garlic, diced bell peppers and cubed carrot, bay leaf and a sprig of oregano sauteed in olive oil.
To the sauteed vegetables, the pork is added and here is where it really gets good. The pork is seasoned with salt and pepper, paprika, chipotle and cayenne. The pork, spices and sauteed vegetables are cooked together just until the meat loses its pinkness.
The pork is already flavorful and the addition of spices ensures that there is already a good base to make a sauce but I don’t stop there. Spicy sausage, sliced, is added. Not hotdog, not canned Vienna sausage, but fresh Spanish chorizo. Sometimes, I use Andouille.
The cooking liquid is broth, not water. That’s my default when stewing boneless meat. Without bones, the sauce tastes flat if the meat is cooked in plain water. So, it’s broth. Chicken broth or vegetable broth.
When the pork is tender and the cooking liquid has reduced to less than half, I just add a can of baked beans. I let everything simmer to bring the flavors together and that’s it! By the time the stew is done, the vegetables, the spices and the sausage have all imparted their flavor and fragrance and the pork, sausage and beans stew is as aromatic as it is delicious.
Pork, sausage and beans
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion - peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves garlic - peeled and chopped
- 2 bell peppers - deseeded and diced
- 1 carrot - peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs oregano - leaves only
- 900 grams pork loin - (not tenderloin), cut into strips
- 2 tablespoons salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon chipotle
- 200 grams spicy sausage - (Spanish-style chorizo is used here) sliced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 400-gram can baked beans
- Heat the olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan and saute the onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, bay leaf and oregano until the onion pieces are starting to soften.
- Spread the pork over the sauteed vegetables and sprinkle in the salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne and chipotle.
- Cook the pork, stirring, just until no longer pink.
- Add the sausage slices and cook, stirring often, until the sausage slices start to render fat.
- Pour in the broth and bring to the boil.
- Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer until the pork is tender is the liquid has reduced to less than half.
- Add the canned beans and stir.
- Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
- Cook until the stew is simmering.
- Serve your pork, sausage and beans with crusty bread.