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Barbecue Pork and Beans

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Pork and beans is usually more beans than pork; not so here. This hearty stew is overrun with melt-in-your-mouth barbecued pork, laced with just enough beans to sop up the sauce. I suggest you use pork shoulder and cut it into cubes yourself, even if precut pork is available. Generic meat cubes can come from anywhere on the pig, and the richly marbled, well-exercised shoulder meat is what you want here. On the other hand, any type of dried beans will be fine. I usually use a white bean (pea bean, navy, Great Northern, white kidney, or butter beans), but you can use pintos or pink beans. I even tried a bag of mixed beans in this recipe, and it was delicious.

NotesPrecook: 1 hour to overnight (depending on how you soak the beans)

Slow Cook: 8 to 10 hours on low in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker

6 servings

Cooking Methodslow cooking

CostModerate

Total Timea day or more

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionFamily Get-together, game day

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Equipmentcrock pot

Mealdinner

Taste and Texturemeaty, savory, sweet, tangy

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (about ½ pound) dried beans, such as a white bean, pinto, kidney, or a mixture
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 teaspoons Southwest-style spice rub, homemade or purchased, divided
  • 2 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 1 celery rib, cut into ½-inch-thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, preferably ground from whole seeds toasted in a dry skillet
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce, homemade or purchased
  • 1 can (about 15 ounces) diced tomatoes, with their juice

Instructions

  1. Put the beans in a bowl, cover with at least 3 inches of water, and soak overnight. Or put the beans in a saucepan, cover with 3 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Continue boiling for 3 minutes, remove from the heat, and soak the beans for 1 hour. Drain.

  2. While the beans are soaking, rub the pork cubes with 2 teaspoons of the spice rub; wrap well and refrigerate.

  3. Cook the bacon in a large deep skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium heat until most of the fat has rendered and coats the bottom of the skillet, about 5 minutes. Remove the cooked bacon and reserve.

  4. Turn the heat up to medium-high and brown the pork in the bacon fat, in batches if needed; transfer to a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add the beans and the bacon, and toss to combine.

  5. Add the onion, carrots, and celery to the skillet and sauté until tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the cumin, the remaining teaspoon of spice rub, and the flour and stir to coat the vegetables. Add the chicken broth and simmer until slightly thickened, stirring often. Stir in the barbecue sauce and tomatoes and pour into the slow cooker. Stir to combine, cover the cooker, and cook for 8 to 10 hours on low, until the beans are tender. Stir and serve.

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