Pork and Beans, with Coffee Grit
Mattie Ross does not drink coffee or have much experience with bounty hunters. She is only 14. After crossing the river on the back of Little Blackie, stalking her father’s killer and falling down a hole she deserves a home cooked meal. This is an innocent version of a frontier favourite. You’ll find no lurid stain of tomato red here. Mattie’s seen enough crimson spilled in the last few.
As for the rest of the posse; if anyone’s character is lacking in grit they can always add some to top of their stew. Here are the necessary parts; the crunch of breadcrumbs, sourness of lemon, spray of salt and the sting of garlic. There’s even a small dose of coffee to keep things lively.
All you need is a nip of whiskey on the side – or a sip of water from a muddy hoof print. Either way, you’ll be glad of it.
For the stew:
1.1 pounds, (or 500 gram) piece of boneless pork belly, skin removed (nb, if it comes on the bone, you can simply cut it off and brown the bones separately to add to the pot. Just make sure you have 500 grams of meat)
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 large brown onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 carrot, chopped
3 sticks of celery, chopped
2 cups of chicken stock
1.75 pounds, or (800g) navy beans (or another variety of white beans) drained and rinsed (or soaked overnight, rinsed and cooked in water a pot for an hour first)
3 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
For the Grit:
½ cup of breadcrumbs
1 tbsp of butter
1 tsp of ground coffee
2 tbsp of finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp of zested lemon rind
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt, to taste
Here’s how we roll
1. Heat the oven to 320 F (160C). Cut the pork belly into matchbook sized chunks. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, oven proof casserole and fry the pork with the fat side down, so it renders. Brown the pork all over and then remove with a slotted spoon.
(If you have the rib bones, brown them too- they will add more flavour to the stew.)
2. Turn the heat down to medium and put the onion, carrots, celery and garlic in the pot. Cook for 4-5 minutes until softened, but don’t let them brown.
3. Add the bay leaves and the sprig of thyme. Return the pork to the pan. Pour over two cups of chicken stock.(If you have soaked your beans overnight, now is the time to add them. If you’re using canned, leave them aside for the moment.)
4. Place the casserole, with the lid on in the oven for 2 and a half hours. The pork should be meltingly tender.
5. Add one of the cans of beans to the pot. Return to the oven without the lid for 45 minutes.
6. Purée the other can of beans with a quarter of a cup of water.
7. Remove the bones if they went into the pot. Also remove the thyme sprig and the bay leaves.
8. Add the puréed beans to the sauce.
9. To make the grit brown the butter in a fry pan. Add the breadcrumbs and fry until golden. Then add the garlic, lemon zest, coffee and parsley. Add salt to taste.
10. Serve the stew warm, with the grit sprinkled over the top.
A pot of sofkee to share in a dark hut? A snake bite cocktail?
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