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To Bean or Not to Bean?

Dried beans are so amazingly unique and versatile and packed full not only of nutrients, but flavor! Each little pea, legume, and kidney-shaped pod is different in its own right and offers up a different floral fruity flavor. They make perfect side dishes or even main entrees. Beans can be served cold, marinated in a vibrant vinaigrette and chilled for a refreshing summer salad. They also make a warm and hearty meal, especially when stewed with rich smoked meats and slow-cooked to enhance and embellish the full flavors to be coaxed out of the beans.

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These black-eyed peas don't miss a beat with all the flavor and richness only beans can spring! Dress it up with buttery and garlicky croutons for a texture and taste sensation that will send you whirling!

Beans are such an easy dish to make. These are something you can pretty much set and forget. They can be prepared ahead of time and keep nicely until ready to serve. Not only are beans super easy to cook, but they also freeze extremely well, so make lots and save or share!

Versatility and creativity are limitless when flavors ranging from sweet to savory to smoky are well within easy reach. Look out for sweet beans used in luscious desserts, as well as creamy bean dips, and even crispy fried snacks. All hail the bean!


Black Eyed Peas with Pork and Crispy Croutons

These black-eyed peas don't miss a beat with all the flavor and richness only beans can spring! Dress it up with buttery and garlicky croutons for a texture and taste sensation that will send you whirling!


Ingredients


1 pound dried black eye peas, rinsed and soaked overnight

2 bone-in pork chops

1/2 pound smoked sausage, diced

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 Tbsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 cup white wine or chicken stock

1 pound black eye peas, soaked and drained

2 1/2 cups water

2 Tbsp rendered bacon fat or olive oil

1 Tbsp GunPowder seasoning, divided plus more to taste

salt and pepper to taste


For the Croutons:

4 slices bread

2 Tbsp softened butter

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp granulated garlic


Easy Beansy!

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Adjust the racks in the oven to the lowest position. On a cutting board, lay out pork chops and sprinkle liberally with GunPowder seasoning, or salt and pepper. Rub seasoning in on both sides of pork and let it sit for a moment to allow seasoning to permeate the meat.


In a large pot, heat bacon fat or olive oil over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add pork chops and just sear on both sides. (You're not looking to cook them through just yet.) Once you've achieved the sear, remove the pork chops and set them aside on a plate.


Add in diced smoked sausage. Stir sausage to heat thoroughly. Add in bell peppers, celery, and onions. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, stir and cook until vegetables are tender and onions become translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and tomato paste, and cook until tomato paste becomes brick red and thick. Season with 1/2 tablespoon of GunPowder seasoning and mix well.


Deglaze the pot with wine or chicken stock. Turn the heat down to low, stir and simmer while scraping fond from the bottom of the pot. Allow the wine to reduce for about 5 minutes. Place par-cooked pork chops back into the pot with the sausage and vegetables. Add in beans and water. Cover and stir, tasting the broth and adjusting seasoning as you like. Bring to a rolling simmer, cover and let cook for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, stir and give it another taste.


Turn the oven OFF. Cover the pot and set it in the powered-off oven and let the residual heat cook the beans and pork for 1 hour. When ready to serve, give the pot a good stir, and top with croutons if you choose.


To make the croutons:


Heat oven to 350 degrees and move a rack to the top of the oven. If using fresh bread, slice 4 long 1/2-inch slices. Spread softened butter evenly over all slices. Sprinkle lightly with salt and granulated garlic. Place slices on oven rack and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes, until golden, bubbly and crisp.


Slice the bread into thin strips, about 1/4 inch long, and again across, so the pieces of croutons are similar in size to the beans. Sprinkle croutons over beans and pork and enjoy!



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