Is there anything more American than pork and beans?
Don’t answer that. There are actually many things. Apple pie. Football. Betsy Ross. Hip hop. (If you put pork and beans ON an apple pie, would that be more American than all of the above?)
The point is, people in America have been eating pork and beans in one form or another for a damn long time. Colonists and pioneers boiled beans and salt pork. Grapes of Wrath extras simmered factory-packed cans of navy beans and hotdogs over barrel fires in run-down Hoovervilles. 1
Unfortunately, pork and beans is a sugary glopfest. I see nothing healthy, nothing tasty, nothing good.
What I do see is potential.Pork and beans 2.0! More vegetables, more spice! Better beans, better meat! This version of pork and beans beats up the canned one, takes its lunch money, and blows it all on roller coasters and plutonium! Because AMERICA!
It’s super easy, too. Cook the hell out of some dry beans in a crock pot overnight. Sauté some onion, carrot, and collard greens. Then add some good sliced kielbasa (I found one at Price Chopper that had a natural lamb casing and very few preservatives), dose it with cumin and chile powder, and dump in the beans!I don’t like beans, but I liked this.
WHAT I WOULD CHANGE IF I MADE IT AGAIN
The kielbasa was great, but it did make everything taste very distinctive. The leftovers became less and less appetizing, just because the cured meat taste was so intense. You might try replacing the kielbasa with some carnitas, or even chicken if you don’t feel like you have to stick to pork.
I really dig the cumin and hot chili flakes in the beans, but I might tailor the spices a little more; maybe add some herbs, like basil or parsley.
FOR THE NERDS
I’m trying to eat less meat, using it regularly more as a flavoring than as a course unto itself. Pork and beans is fantastic in that capacity; it’s mostly beans, with the meat just in there for a bit of taste and texture.
Since this is kind of a stew, there’s the opportunity to throw in pretty much any vegetable you want. I’m trying to up my greens game, so collards made sense here, but this could also be an opportunity to get rid of some zucchini or leeks or eggplants or… I don’t know… turnips? If you use spices like cumin and chiles, that taste is gonna overpower everything anyway, so you might as well get as much healthy stuff as you can in there.
This dish is already cheap, but if you wanted to stretch it even further, serving it over a starch like brown rice or bulgur would not be bad at all. Even better if the grain has some intense spices in it for tasty contrast.
LECTURE OVER! BACK TO THE PORK AND BEANS!
Yeah, I didn’t do a video for this one. Sorry. You can’t always get what you want. But there’s still a recipe! And if you want even more fast, righteous meals, download my free GET COOKING minibook for dudely foods.
- 2 lbs dry Great Northern beans
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch collard greens
- 1 kielbasa, sliced into coins
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- Rinse the beans in a colander, then put them in the slow cooker and cover with 2 inches of water. Add the salt and cook on LOW for at least 12 hours.
- In a large skillet or dutch oven, sauté the onion and carrot in a bit of oil until the carrot is tender.
- Add the garlic and collard greens and sauté until the ribs of the collard greens are tender.
- Add the kielbasa and spices, cook for a minutes, then add the beans.
- Taste and add salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste.
- You should probably not use this website as a historical reference. ↩