Pork and Orange-Flavored Beans

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4 to 6

    as a Main Course

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

The extent of regional Greek cooking was unknown to American readers in the 1980s. Now it is better known and being well studied. Last year my friend the Greek food writer Aglaia Kremezi and I traveled together to one of her favorite islands, Chios, in the northern Aegean, famous for its mastic gum, ouzo, olives, and delicious citrus-based spoon sweets.

Aglaia wanted me to taste some of the dishes that would appear in her book The Foods of the Greek Islands. Once again we fell into our old habit of sharing. While there, she introduced me to chef Stefanos Kovas, at whose ouzo bar we tasted this scrumptious pork-flavored orange-fragrant bean dish.

On Chios I learned how fortunate northern Greeks are to have one of the most delicious beans to work with—the huge, nutty-tasting, white gigante, which, when baked slowly, produces a soft, unbroken skin over a meaty, firm, and delicately flavored heart. In northern Greece, gigante beans star prominently in soups, casseroles, and other family dishes.

Serious pork and bean eaters will love this recipe from Chios . . . and I thank Aglaia Kremezi for sharing it.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried Greek giant beans, or substitute white kidney or cannellini beans
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¾ pound boned pork shoulder, in 1 or 2 chunks
  • Zest from 1 medium orange
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, Turkish red pepper flakes, or hot red pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 cup sweet red wine (Greek Mavrodaphne, Madeira, or Marsala)
  • 2/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2/3 cup grated fresh tomato or chopped good-quality canned tomatoes
  • 1 small celery rib with leaves
  • Sprigs of parsley, for garnish

Method

  1. Pick over the beans and soak them in water to cover by at least 2 inches overnight.
  2. The following day drain the beans and put them in a deep pot, preferably a bean pot. Cover with 6 cups fresh water and slowly bring to a boil, skimming. Add 1 of the bay leaves. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not mushy. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the liquid. Discard the bay leaf
  3. Meanwhile, place the meat in a separate pot, cover with cold water, add the remaining bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Skim, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. In another saucepan, blanch the orange zest 3 times. Let the zest dry on parchment paper, then cut into fine strips.
  5. Drain the meat; cut it into ½-inch cubes and season with salt and pepper. Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve and measure it. If it is more than ½ cup, boil over high heat to reduce to ½ cup.
  6. In a large straight-sided skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the pork and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the beans and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute. Stir in the red pepper, mustard, wine, orange juice, meat broth, 1 teaspoon salt, the tomato, celery, and orange zest. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. If more liquid is needed, add some of the reserved bean broth.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Taste the beans and adjust the seasoning, adding pepper to taste. (Do not worry about the decidedly orange flavor; it will mellow.) Transfer to a -quart baking dish and bake until the beans are very tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm, garnished with some sprigs of parsley.