Recipe was adapted from John Thorne’s Serious Pig, a must-buy for anyone interested in American regional cuisine, or just great food prose in general:
The classic recipe calls for a cracked ham bone with generous pieces of meat left on it, or alternatively New Orleans pickled pork, neither of which I had to hand. What I did have was copious quantities of ham stock in the freezer from my Christmas ham, as well as $2 worth of pork neck bones from Flushing’s Chinatown (and two bucks buys you a lot of those there). Some chorizo or kielbasa was also recommended – all I could easily source was Goya chorizo. I stand by this shit. Cheap and good.
The beans were Rancho Gordo sangre de toro, part of their Xoxoc Project for working with indigenous farmers to preserve Mesoamerican bean varieties that are in danger of going extinct. These small, sumptuous red beans are far tastier than regular kidney beans, and closer to the small kidneys used in Louisiana. Also, most importantly, I had a bag of them.
So here’s the recipe – pretty simple, just allow yourself a lot of time.
- 1 cup small dried red beans, soaked overnight, reserving the soaking water
- up to 1 quart ham stock
- 2 lbs pork neck bones
- 2 Goya chorizo sausages, cut into 1/8-1/4″ discs
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 celery stalk, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1 small, hot red chile seeded and minced
- 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, minced
- 3-4 scallions, finely minced, green and white parts, half of which reserve uncooked
Blanch the pork neck bones from a cold start, boiling 1-2 minutes, drain and set aside.
Put beans in a heavy pot, cover with 1 quart ham stock, filling out with reserved soaking liquid as need be, add some salt, bring to a hard boil for 10 minutes, reduce flame and simmer for at least 1 hour, adding more soaking liquid as necessary, until beans are tender.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tbs butter in a skillet or large pot over medium heat and cook onions, both bell peppers and celery until soft (6-8 minutes). Add garlic, scallions and parsley and saute for another 2 minutes. Add bay leaves and sausage and saute for another 2 minutes.
Add saute contents to bean pot with all other ingredients, salt and pepper to taste (keeping in mind that the ham stock and chorizo will have some salt already), bring to a boil, and and cook from 1 1/2 to 4 hours at a bare simmer, adding more reserved bean liquid (or hot water if you run out) as necessary. As the beans and other ingredients really begin to soften, mash them up against the side of the pot and stir the pulp back into the main liquid to thicken it.
Make rice to taste towards the end of the cooking period and serve beans and its gravy on top of it. Scatter reserved uncooked minced scallions on top. Place on table with condiments to taste (suggested: hot sauce, chopped raw onions, chopped raw scallion, chiles in vinegar, or really whatever you like).