Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Latino Pork and beans

The loss of Native American territory as the modern United States was settled through the 19th century

Commonly spoken about in cowboy films, pork and beans takes its place in culinary mythology as the dish that fueled pioneer America when settlers forged west into unexplored territory. Well, unexplored by white people anyway. I mean, it was already home to quite a lot of people who were living there quite happily already (but not for much longer, see the graphic above) but they weren't white European settlers and their story never made it into films so they were clearly not very important.

On a lighter note, a diet consisting largely of beans does have some unwanted side-effect, and you'd not want to share a tent with anyone who eats like this. 

Cowboys eating beans
 Mel Brooks captures the pain of the human condition that can only be relieved by lifting your buttock and farting

Apparently there is also a tinned version of this famous American staple in the States which sounds quite vile. Rumour has it that the pork content is of such poor quality and so insignificant that you might be suspicious that it's made of the sweepings from the floor of an abattoir. As I say, this is hearsay as I've never tried it, but I'd imagine it's something like the full English breakfast in a can which looks and sounds equally revolting. I've also never tried this and, indeed, wouldn't want to eat it if my life depended on it and the only way to consume it was in suppository form. I think I'd prefer a shit sandwich with hemlock dressing and a polonium salsa

Going from the ridiculous to the sublime, this dish is based on a recipe that appeared in the Guardian Saturday cooking supplement (for example they suggest you soak and boil dried beans when I say, in best Sweary style, fuck that when good quality tinned ones are available) though this itself was actually based on Brazilian feijola. It includes Spanish chorizo, Mexican chipotle and dark (ie British/Irish) beer so it's not quite authentically Brazilian. It's similar in a lot of ways to my chilli recipe but it does taste quite different and is another slow cooked classic made in one pot. There is something wonderful about trying a new recipe and it turning out so great you know it is a keeper, and this is one of those dishes

400g belly pork
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1 medium sized carrot chopped
50g chorizo, chopped
1 tin of black beans, drained
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chipotle paste
½ tsp chilli flakes
1½ tbsp tomato puree
1tsp mixed herbs
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 tin tomatoes
200ml dark beer
500 ml water
1 vegetable stock cube

It's all in the chopping
Celery, carrot, garlic, onion and chorizo

Remove the skin/crackling from the pork belly (I posted a blog mentioning my fatal attraction to pork scratchings recently so you ought to realise there's no way in hell I'm letting this go to waste. See the notes for what you can do with this)

Heat the oil in a pan, add the pork and brown it for a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon

Add the onion and garlic to fry for 5 minuted before adding the carrot and celery. Allow these to sweat out for 5-10 minutes before adding the chorizo and fry for another five minutes when the chorizo should colour up the vegetables.

More ingredients ready to go in
From 11 o'clock: mixed herbs, tomato puree, chipotle paste, black pepper, cumin

Add the cumin, black pepper, herbs, chipotle paste, chilli flakes, mustard and tomato puree then mix before adding the chopped yellow peppers to soften for a few minutes.

Pour in the tinned tomatoes, beer, water and crumble in the stock cubes before mixing well.

Add the beans and return the pork to the pan.

Simmer, covered, on a low heat for 3 hours or more (this would be a good slow cooker recipe). The pork should be almost falling apart.

Serve with rice, bread or baked or sauteed potatoes (roasted sweet potatoes would be fucking amazing with this).
A panful of porky joy


This is what to do with the crackling:
- Ensure the skin is well scored into 2cm strips (should be done already, but use a sharp knife to do it yourself if not).
-Chuck it in a pan of water, heat it to boiling and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
-Pat it dry with kitchen roll, sprinkle salt on it, then wrap it in more kitchen roll for 30 minutes.
-Put it into an ovenproof dish and put it in a hot oven at 200°C for 45 minutes.
That's fantastic pork scratchings right there. In the recipe I adapted for this blog entry it states you use this as a garnish on the stew but I'd say fuck that and eat the scratchings on their own as a snack.

Chipotle chillies are fantastic, and the heat and warm smoky flavour the paste brings the dish is wonderful. On the other hand, chipotle paste isn't that easy to come by in the UK, unless you go to one of the really big supermarkets or some wanky Mexican deli. I mean, I make no secret of the fact that I'm a foodie wanker and I got hold of it, but improvisation is the bedrock of a great dish. Add more chilli flakes and a couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika instead. Damn it, even swap some of the chorizo for smoked bacon to give the same flavour if you can't get smoked paprika.

Mexican delis aren't that common in the UK, mainly on account of there not being a significant Mexican community over here. For example, where I live, the Mexican community is incredibly small. So small, in fact, that he lives in the centre of town and is actually my Spanish teacher.

The recipe would work with pork filet as well as the belly used in this incarnation and this would also be lower in fat and cook quicker.

As I mentioned above, the black beans are available in tins so why bother soaking and boiling the dried variety? Seriously, why make something more complicated than it needs to be? Sure, they'll be a bit cheaper, but how fucking tight are you to want to do that if you're already paying for chipotle paste and pork belly but want to save 10p on the beans? Also, make sure you get black turtle beans, not Chinese black beans which are fermented soya beans and totally different. The tin I bought for this was from Dunn's River (though if you can't find these, red kidney beans would also work):

This is the sort of dish Thomasina Miers might feature in her column. She is one of those trendy celeb chefs, slightly less trendy than the Yott, but she won Masterchef and her speciality is fantastic Central American Latino food that demands things like quail and day-old brioche. It's probably no revelation to say I've never won Masterchef. To be fair, I've never actually applied to enter the show as it's not really my kind of cooking. In fact the only reason I'd try to get on the show might be to try and infect John Torode and Greg Wallace with norovirus.

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