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Pork Cheeks with White Beans – Food Event

Special dressing: Joan Baez (I adore her voice) A tribute to my grandmother.

Here in Spain it’s said that we don’t throw anything away from the pork. And it’s so true! Here you have a dish made out of its cheeks. This meat can be the more tender meat you ever had. A slow cooking is the key and what else needs slow and long cooking??? Beans, yes! So it’s so good to have them together.

This is such a comforting dish for cold winter days… I would not imagine myself eating this during hot summer, uffff. I would barbaque the cheeks instead and have some garlic, olive oil and parsley on top, but this will be a post for a summer recipe. Back to the subject, now that days are short and everything we can get to keep us warm is good, mother nature tells us we need some fat to ease the cold days. This dish will give you energy to face the winter temperatures.

I’m posting this recipe for the Comfort Food event at Eve’s Garden of Eating, please drop by and see all fantabulous recipes foodies post to keep cold away! And take a look at her wonderful recipes too!

Nowadays, you can find tinned beans at supermarket, but I rather cook and eat them the old way, like my grandmother used to do. She was the sweetest grandmom on earth. She was a happy, independent, original, imaginative and funny woman! This toast and dish is for you, Angelina!

The white beans she used to cook are a variety called “Mongetes del ganxet”, you can only find them in farming villages near Barcelona, and it is said that, when cooked, they are the softest you can find! My grandmother had some tips: Never use the old harvest beans, just the latest one. Be patient and cook them for hours at such low heat that water nearly doesn’t boil. If you see it boiling, add some more cold water to “frighten the beans” and drop the temperature. Don’t add salt until the dish is nearly finished, 2 minutes before turning heat off. Use mineral water if the tap water is too heavy on lime.
If you follow these simple instructions, your beans will be remembered as Angelina’s beans are!

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•Ingredients for 4 servings: 300 grs white dry beans, 4 pork cheeks, 100 grs fresh bacon, 1 onion, 4 ripe tomatoes, 2 green peppers, 1 garlic head, 2 thyme springs, 1 bay leaf, 1 carrot, 1 leek, some parsley, olive oil and salt.

•The night before, have the beans in cold water (double their height).

•Have a big casserole with some olive oil in its bottom and fry the bacon and cheeks (salted) until they get golden.
•Once they are golden take away from the casserole and reserve in a plate.
•Cut the onion and convert the ripe tomatoes into a sauce (no peels) and start a sofrito.

•In the same oil you cooked the cheeks and bacon, throw the onion and once it’s transparent add the tomatoes sauce. Have the heat medium/low and keep on stirring until you get the perfect sofrito: Tomatoe seems to dissapear and it gets oily again (see pictures in Power Point to get a better view).

•Take the cheeks and bacon back to the casserole and stir so that all flavours mix (1 minute).
•Then add cold mineral water till you cover the cheeks and then add the strained beans, the peppers, carrot, garlic head, leek, thyme and bay leaf (all cleaned). Don’t add salt!!!! The beans could become too hard and not soft at all. We want them to be very soft.

•It’s no good for the beans to boil, so we we’ll keep the casserole hot, nearly boiling for 3 hours, if anytime, you see it boiling, add some cold water to stop the process.
•When beans are new and not from last years’ maybe they will be cooked in 2 hours, just keep an eye on them.It’s always better to use the latest harvest beans. 2 Minutes before turning off the heat, add salt to your taste.

•Prepare the dish with the green pepper, beans, cheek without the bone and some sauce.

I hope you enjoy it!


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01/19/2008 · 15:50 h by Peter M

Nuria, it’s morning here and I want to eat this for dinner now…simply delicioso!

Come take a look at my blog, I have a surprise for you! ;)

01/19/2008 · 20:06 h by Emiline

I’ve never had pork cheeks, but I would be willing to try them.

The white beans sound good, too. Would you believe I’ve only served white beans from a can? What kind of a gourmet am I?

01/19/2008 · 20:07 h by Núria

Peter, Thanks so much again!
It moved me!!! Gambas al Pil Pil are sooooo good, you couldn’t choose better! :D

01/19/2008 · 20:35 h by Laurie Constantino

Oh my, does this ever look delicious. Slow cooked meat and beans have to be one of the world’s best combinations! I also loved your snail story/recipe – the collecting task is the same in Greece — as soon as it rains everyone heads out to the fields to pick snails.

01/20/2008 · 15:54 h by Núria

Hi Emiline!!! You are a perfect gourmet!!!!!!! You cannot imagine what kind of cooking I did when I was your age!!!! …. Nobody could eat that! ahhhaaahhhh! So one day, you will just start with natural beans… and you will love the change! I bet!!!!!

Hola Laurie, thanks for your comment! Isn’t it great the smell of a rainy day in the country side and the hunt of snails? MMMMmmmmm… love that feeling!

01/20/2008 · 17:54 h by bee

i remember having a very similar dish in goa (india) years ago. yes, it’s true comfort food. you have a beautiful blog.

01/20/2008 · 18:08 h by bee

dear nuria,
i received your e-mail. i tried to reply twice, but it keeps bouncing back. thank you for your kind words.

01/20/2008 · 20:15 h by Heather

Oh, this reminds me of the food my mother cooked when I was a child! We were very poor, so sometimes the meat she could afford was a ham bone, which she would boil in a pot with white beans. Good memories – thanks Nuria!

01/20/2008 · 23:47 h by Bellini Valli

A perfectly comforting dish for the event Nuria!!All is well in Spain in your household!!

01/21/2008 · 8:28 h by Núria

Hola Bee! How nice to see you here, thanks for your kind words too!
Sometimes comforting pleasures are in simple things… don’t you agree?

Hola Heather! Wow this time must have been so hard… don’t know what to say.
I’m happy to see that your table now shows a big and wonderful food spread (like the dishes you present at leftoverqueen Joust)!!! But beans and ham bones are a must in good kitchen!!!!!!!!

Good morning Val! A foggy morning here but with promises of 20ºC sunny temperatures at midday. We are having a weird winter….???
I could participate in the Comfort Food event because I saw it in your post, so thank you, Val!
Have a great snowed Day!!!

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