brown beans feature shot 1

slow cooked pork & beans

It’s the middle of winter and although it has been a very mild winter in the West Kootenay, there is just something about January and February that makes one crave comfort foods like casseroles, soups and, you guessed it, classic slow cooked pork and beans.

At Kootenay Spice, we went ahead and made a huge batch of beans as they are so delicious and freeze very well. We portion them into meal-sized containers and freeze them for quick & easy lunches to take to work or have as a side with dinner.

Remember to plan ahead for this recipe, as the beans need to soak overnight plus they will cook for 8-12 hours. To maximize flavour, we will buy pork hocks or bones and boil them into broth a day or two ahead of making these beans. Beef, chicken or vegetable broths will also work just fine if that is what you have on hand.

This recipe will make about 12-16 servings and requires:

2 (500g) packages white beans
1 (500g) package bacon (uncooked)
2 red onions
1 small can tomato paste
4 cups pork broth
⅓ cup maple syrup
⅓ cup molasses
⅓ cup honey
1-2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp mustard powder
1 Tbsp salt
pepper to taste

Place beans in a large bowl and fill with water. Let soak overnight, covered & at room temperature.

Strain the beans when you are ready to start cooking.

Combine tomato paste, pork broth, syrup, molasses, honey, mustard powder and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

 

Cut the bacon into 1” or so pieces & place about ⅓ in the bottom of the slow cooker. Chop the onion & garlic into fine pieces. Layer ½ of the onion & garlic over the bacon in the slow cooker & top with pepper.

 

Add ½ of the beans over the onion & garlic. Top with more pepper if desired. Stir up the broth/sauce and pour just enough over the beans until the liquid is just starting to cover the tops.

  

Add another ⅓ of the bacon, followed by the rest of of the onion & garlic, then the rest of the beans.

  

Top with the rest of the bacon, followed by sauce to just cover the tops of the beans. Reserve & refrigerate any excess sauce, you may use it later.

Cook on high for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, stir beans gently and turn cooker to low. The beans will look like there is more liquid at the point, but don’t worry, that’s perfectly normal!

Cook on low for 4 hours. After 4 hours, gently stir again and add any leftover sauce.

Let cook another 2-6 hours, until beans are soft (but still intact) and absorbing the colour of the sauce.

You can enjoy your beans right away, or let them cool and save some for another time.

We enjoyed some with our sweet honey garlic rolls (pictured below – recipe to come soon!). We then let the rest cool & processed them as we mentioned above.

DSC00205

roasted garlic

We had an abundance of garlic in the Kootenay Spice kitchen this season. So much, in fact, we figured we had more fresh garlic than we were going to be able to use in a reasonable amount of time (& for us that’s a lot of garlic!)

As many of you likely know, we love garlic and we love our cast iron pans. The cast iron guarantees far better results than most conventional pans. Check out our blog post on taking good care of your cast iron dishes.

You can make just a few bulbs of garlic or, as we have done here, used a few dozen bulbs. If you are roasting as much garlic as we did, be prepared for your kitchen to smell of garlic for at least a day!

DSC00193Preheat your oven to 350*F.

Cut the top 1/2 cm (1/4”) off of the garlic bulb. Place the bulb, cut side up, in an appropriately sized baking dish.

Smother each garlic bulb with extra virgin olive oil. You will need just a little more than about half a tablespoon or so of oil per garlic bulb. We did 40 bulbs and used approximately 1.5 cups of olive oil (which is about 25 tablespoons of oil).

DSC00194Cover the garlic with tinfoil and place in the oven for up to one hour (20 – 30 minutes if you are only doing a few bulbs). Check periodically over that time to ensure the bulbs are not burning. If they are getting

Once the bulbs are soft when poked with a fork, remove from the oven, keep covered and let cool.

Once the garlic has cooled, drain the excess oil into a sealable container to use with a day or two. Great for frying veggies or in a salad dressing blend!

DSC00205We put the excess garlic into a large freezer bag and grab a bulb or few when we need one.

To use the roasted garlic, simply peel the cloves or squish the meat of the garlic out of the shells. Use it for garlic butter (for toast or seafood), rubbed on meats & veggies, mixed into soups & stews, blended with salads or baked goods, there are so many options!