The classic beans and salt pork recipe is a favorite for many. If you’re new to this mouthwatering dish, salt pork basically means pork that is preserved by being packed with salt. Unlike bacon, it’s not smoked for preservation. Salt pork is normally meaty or completely made of fat. It is either cut from the pig’s side, fatback, or belly. As for the beans, dried cannellini beans that have been picked over and rinsed will do.
How did the beans and salt pork recipe come to be? The source of this iconic dish remains unclear to many. What we know, however, is that it was the talk of the town in America early in the 18th century. By mid-century, cookbooks like The American Frugal Housewife were already teaching Americans how to make their favorite dish of pork and beans. Simply get a pound of salt pork, a quart of beans and pepper, and you’re good to go.
Around 1880, the recipe became so popular that commercial interests came up with canned pork and beans. This marked the beginning of convenience food, as connoted by the Better Homes and Garden Heritage Cookbook in 1975. That said, if you’d like to enjoy this delicious dish, a simple walk to Walmart will do. Even better, you can make your own fresh beans and salt pork recipe and enjoy it with the seasoning of your choice along with other accompaniments like grilled cheese sandwiches, corn on the cob, and coleslaw.
- 1 pound dried navy beans, cannellini beans, yellow eye beans, or pea beans.
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup molasses
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ pound lean salt pork (diced)
- ½ pimento peppers
- ½ Thai chilli peppers
- Rinse and pick over the beans then place them in a large bowl to stand for a night.
- In the morning, drain your beans then combine them with the chopped onion in a large saucepan. Add the Thai and pimento peppers, then add water till it's slightly above the mixture then heat to boil.
- Cover and simmer until the bean skins start to burst open.
- Drain the water into a bowl, measure a cup of it then add molasses, mustard, brown sugar, and salt then stir well.
- Add all the beans and half the salt pork into a baking dish, then pour the molasses mixture into them till the liquid rises just above the mixture.
- Top with remaining salt pork then bake covered for 4 hours at 300F. Ensure that they remain wet, when they seem dry, add some of the drained water.
- Uncover them and bake them for about one hour till the beans are fully tender.
- You can also cook them directly over the fire by adding the pork chops from step 4. Let them cook for 2 hours while adding the molasses mixture and stirring occasionally. When the beans are as tender as you desire, correct the seasoning if necessary by adding more pepper, thyme, and garlic.
1. Should I add more salt to the recipe?
Unless you like your food extra salty, refrain from adding more salt.
2. Do I have to wait overnight until my beans soak to make my recipe?
You could also bring your beans to boil in a pot filled with water instead of soaking them overnight. Boil for 5 minutes, remove from heat and let sit for an hour.