In the past, I was never one to sit down to a big bowl of beans with any significant level of anticipation or excitement. But for one reason or another, I felt inspired to make beans and cornbread for our Sunday lunch a couple of months ago. I didn’t use a recipe, but when it came time to enjoy the results after the beany concoction had been simmering the in the slow cooker for hours, I was sold. These beans were delicious. I’m talking really, really good.
Since the Organic Seasoning Salt from Real Salt stars in this recipe, I thought this would be the perfect time to share it seeing as a lovely Organic Seasoning Gift Set it being given away by the fine folks at Redmond this week.
The recipe starts with a pound of dried beans, soaked overnight to help boost nutrition and digestibility. They are cooked in a homemade bone broth, full of minerals, along with a pound of sliced and pan fried fresh pork side. The pork side is basically uncured, unseasoned bacon slices, and so they are seasoned during the time they are pan fried. A hefty portion of onions and garlic are added to the mix, along with a few other veggies if desired. After about six hours in the slow cooker, you’ll have a frugal, delicious, stick-to-your-ribs meal.
Nourishing Beans with Fresh Pork Side
- 1 pound dried small beans, soaked overnight in water and rinsed & drained (Navy beans seem to be the traditional choice, but any bean will do)
- 4-8 cups chicken broth (I use about six for our beans, giving them a texture similar to stew)
- 1 pound thick-sliced fresh pork side (1 pound thick-sliced, uncured bacon would also work, with the seasoning step omitted)
- 2 T. Organic Seasoning Salt from Redmond Real Salt (affiliate link)
- 1 1/2 T. Sucanat (affiliate link)
- 2 t. Real Salt (affiliate link)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pepper of choice, optional (I used Poblano, but you could use any bell or large pepper)
- 1/2-1 cup shredded carrot, optional
- Place soaked and rinsed beans in a 4-5 quart slow cooker along with desired amount of broth. For thicker beans, use the lesser amount; for soupier beans, increase the amount of broth.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. While skillet warms, mix seasoning salt, Sucanat, and Real Salt in a small dish. Lay slices of pork side in the skillet and sprinkle with the seasoning to evenly coat. When lightly browned on one side, flip slices over, seasoning the second side.
- Continue pan frying all pork side slices until crisp, watching carefully that they do not burn after being seasoned. You want to use all of the seasoning on the pork side slices. Allow cooked pieces to cool on a plate while cooking other slices. To encourage even cooking, drain off excess drippings, but do not discard.
- After the pork side has cooked, sauté onion in half of the drippings in the same pan until translucent. Add minced garlic, pepper, and carrot, and sauté for about five more minutes.
- Crumble the cooked pork side slices or cut into small strips with kitchen shears or a sharp knife.
- Add the pork, vegetables, and all pork drippings to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-10 hours. I like to stir part-way through cooking when using the high setting. Add additional Real Salt and black pepper if desired at serving.
I should also note that the final recipe does have a lot of fat to it because all of the drippings are added to the beans. Don’t panic! Animal fat, from healthy animals, is a wonderful nutrient to the body. The fat also helps to give these beans their wonderful flavor and makes them much more satisfying. Because they are so rich, I think these beans pair nicely with a fresh vegetable salad or other lighter vegetable side dish. Cornbread is, of course, a must.