Smoked Pork with Creamy Beans

 I recently stumbled across the most amazing piece of smoked pork - in my mind, a solid piece of bacon - at my local Food Lovers' Market I knew it would feature heavily in whatever I made that weekend - perfect to add to your recipe collection for the winter ahead - a perfect bowl of warming comfort. As I'm now also trying to avoid gluten, the addition of beans was a great way of working around the pasta I would have normally used.

I worked my way around the store, and picked up some blue cheese, a few baby tomatoes (whose caramelised sweetness was a welcome addition in this dish), some mushrooms and a tub of cream - and that was dinner sorted. We braved the rains and headed back home to hibernate under the blankets with our bowls.

I used mushrooms and leeks...but feel free to add whatever you have lying in your fridge - I think peas would work very well if you have them on hand. We ate this indulgently - as is, in bowls, but to make it a little bit more balanced it would be lovely served on a bed of steamed English or baby spinach.
Creamy Beans with Smoked Pork
Serves 2, greedily

1 tin cannellini beans (roughly 300g before draining)
1 tin butter beans (roughly 300g before draining)
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
5 baby leeks, chopped into discs
125g mushrooms of your choice, sliced
375ml cream
100g baby tomatoes, halved
drizzle of balsamic vinegar / balsamic reduction
60g blue cheese (or, to taste)
125g smoked pork or bacon
50g cheddar
salt and black pepper to taste

Place the bacon or pork in a frying pan on a medium / high heat and fry until just starting to colour (no oil is generally needed due to the fat in the pork). Add the mushrooms, garlic and leeks and cook until the mushrooms and leeks just start to soften. Add the cream and reduce the heat down to a simmer.

While this is simmering, place the halved tomatoes on a baking tray and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar or reduction and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place under the grill until caramelised.

Once the cream has reduced and thickened to your liking, drain both tins of beans and add to the pan - stir gently just to heat them through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once heated pour into a tart dish. Crumble the blue cheese and place the tomatoes on top, before sprinkling with cheddar. Place under the grill to melt and brown the cheese before serving. A fresh baguette would not be unwelcome in soaking up the creamy sauce.



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