Home Made Baked Beans with Smoked Pork

This is a dish I have been craving to make for a while. I'm not sure what initially attracted me to it - the sweet barbeque promise of the beans, chunks of smoked pork or a rich tomato scented sauce - but I knew it was something I had to make - and soon.

Most of my knowledge of baked beans comes out of a tin - usually as a side for a braai. Originally sold with a chunk of pork in it, I knew there was more to it than what we've come to expect. Doing a little research, I found a recipe for the Best Baked Beans Ever , but it used a base of pork and beans from a tin. I wanted to be a little more authentic than that.
My recipe calls for you to soak dried beans from scratch (the night before) - but if you're a little pushed for time, using tinned beans will be ok. Just drain and rinse them and add when your sauce is almost ready and reduced - otherwise your beans will disintegrate if added earlier.

I made these beans stove top - allowing them to gently simmer for an hour or so - as I found it a little more electricity efficient, but you can bake yours at 180 degrees if you want to be completely authentic.
This is a flavour packed dish - using simple ingredients you will generally have in your cupboard. As a bonus it's rather economical (the ham hock was under R30) and is great for feeding a crowd and bring a little warmth to the chilly days of winter.

To enhance the smokiness of the pork, I added a few drops of Liquid Smoke, who kindly sent me a sample bottle to use. It is a concentrate, so use sparingly, but the effect is wonderful. Track down a bottle if you can.

Serves 4

2 cups small white beans, soaked overnight
1 tin tomatoes in juice
2 fat cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tbsp  + 1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce
a few drops Liquid Smoke
1 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 cup barbeque sauce (I used Eric Todd's Braai sauce - amazing! More on that in a separate blog post)
1/2 tsp liquid smoke (if using)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
fresh thyme
1 white onion, finely chopped
smoked ham hock (Eisbein between 500g - 700g) Can use smoked pork rashers instead.

Soak the beans overnight (according to packet instructions). Heat a large pot and place the tbsp olive oil in it. Fry the onions and garlic until golden brown. Place the ham hock in the pot with the garlic and onions and fill with enough water to cover it. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes, turn the hock and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Remove the hock from the pot, and carve into bite sizes pieces. Add the tsp olive oil to a frying pan on a medium-high heat and fry the pieces of pork until starting to crisp. Keep the bone.

Discard strain all but 1 liter of water from the pot you used to simmer the hock - keeping the onions and garlic in it. Add all of the remaining ingredients from the list above, including the sliced, fried pork and the bone. Bring to a boil, and allow to simmer gently for an hour or so, stirring occasionally -  you want your sauce reduced and your beans tender, but retaining their shape.

If your sauce is reducing too quickly (and your beans not cooked), add a cup more water at a time. Don't over reduce the sauce, as it will thicken and be absorbed by the beans as it stands.


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