Pork and beans may be comfort food. But so is bacon. So, why not ditch the plain pork and use browned fatty bacon with your beans instead?
Yes, bacon. That much-maligned tasty fatty meat that half the world loves to eat for breakfast. Bacon. Fatty bacon. Belly bacon. Made from pork meat which comes from the animal that is even more maligned than the bacon that comes from it. People with bad hygiene are called pigs. Gluttons are pigs. Those who display bad table manners are pigs. Even sexual molesters and harassers are pigs.
Poor pig. What has the pig ever done to deserve that?
I love pork. Not just the choice cuts like the belly but even the parts that are considered unfit for human consumption in some parts of the world—the head (ears, cheeks, snout and brain included), the entrails (yes, including the intestines), the hock and trotters and, yes, even the blood. Cooked correctly, they are all delicious!
So, if you’re one of those who think that “lean” bacon is an acceptable substitute for real belly bacon, run away now, because you’re about to see an obscene amount of bacon fat that you will surely label as disgusting and which I know, for a fact, is tasty. You’ve been warned.
Here’s the trick for substituting tasty fatty belly bacon for plain pork for your next pork and beans breakfast.
First, cook up the bacon over medium heat so that it renders fat while, at the same time, it browns in its own fat.
Set the bacon aside. You will need some of that rendered bacon fat. What you won’t need for this dish, you can keep in a covered jar in the fridge after cooling (if you’ve gotten this far in your reading, I’m assuming that you’re not a moron who throws away bacon fat). No, you don’t pour hot fat into a jar. Unless the jar is heat-proof (as in, it can actually go into the oven), the glass will most likely shatter. So, cool the bacon fat before storing.
Now, take about two tablespoons of bacon fat and saute an onion in it. With oregano and chilies. I used canned beans to cook this dish and, as most canned beans in tomato sauce is sweet, chilies create the perfect balance. And I added a few other things too but I’ll get to that later.
When the onion pieces have softened and caramelized, just add the canned beans and bacon into the pot. Stir and bring to a simmer.
And you’re done! So simple to make. And it tastes ten times better than plain old pork and beans.
Where did the recipe come from? From my head. For some reason, I was thinking of Fabada Asturiana when I woke up. We’re out of good sausages to make the Spanish bean stew but we still had enough bacon in the freezer.
Now, the formatted recipe.
Bacon (No, Not Plain Pork) and Beans
- 300 grams belly bacon
- 1 onion peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 to 2 bird's eye chili (how many depends on your tolerance for heat)
- 2 pinches dried oregano
- 1 can baked beans in tomato sauce
- 1 to 2 teaspoons steak sauce
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika (smoked, preferably, rather than sweet)
- 1 tablespoon finely sliced scallions
Set a pan over medium heat then spread the bacon in it. Cook over medium heat until browned (no, not all-the-way-crisp).
Scoop out the browned bacon, cut into smaller pieces (I used kitchen shears) and set aside.
Reheat two tablespoons of the bacon fat into a thick-bottomed fat.
Saute the onion, oregano and chili in the bacon fat.
When the onion bits are soft and translucent, pour in the baked beans and add back the bacon. Add the steak sauce, black pepper and paprika. Stir. Cook just until simmering.
Top the bacon and beans with sliced scallions before serving.