Mexican Pork and Beans

I planned to share with you today the out-of-the-park-good restaurant we found in Boston, but a glance at the calendar made me realize that today is Cinco de Mayo. Since we love all things Mexican, all things American, and any variations in between I couldn’t let the occasion pass without a recipe! So I’m going to leave you in suspense a little bit longer with regard to the Boston restaurant and instead tell you about a pot of Mexican pork and beans.
Pork and Beans you ask? (I can see you yawning on the other side of this screen.) What could be so special about pork and beans? Well this simple dish contains two of life’s most treasured comfort foods: wait for it- pork and beans.

Berkshire Pork Ham Hocks

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Rancho Gordo Midnight Black Beans

When it comes to cooking humble food with few ingredients, the quality of those ingredients takes on new importance. A few high quality basic items can come together in a simple fashion, elevating an ordinary dish to new delectable heights. In the case of this Mexican pork and beans, the stars of the show are: wait for it- pork and beans. I have waxed poetic about Rancho Gordo beans many times before, and once again a bag of Rancho Gordo Midnight Black beans inspired the entire dish. Small, inky, and oh so savory, these tiny black beans hold their shape after hours of cooking. They create a strong background of flavor and texture. Complementing the black beans and adding equal substance to the pot are two hefty ham hocks. Cut from Berkshire pork and only lightly smoked, these ham hocks are as far apart from wrinkly liquid smoke injected shrink-wrapped ham hocks as you can get. Slowly simmered in a thick bean liquid they fall off the bone into big pink chunks of porcine goodness.
A generous drizzle of lime juice, a sprinkle of crumbly cotija cheese, and a few chunks of fresh avocado top off these Mexican pork and beans with style. With a spoon in one hand and a margarita in the other you’ll agree that simple ingredients can come together into satisfying one-pot dinner that no one will be yawning over.
Phoo-d’s Greatest Hits for a Cinco de Mayo Party:
Key Lime Pie (with Mexican Limes)
Mexican Pork and Beans (Printable Recipe)
Serves 6
Beans:
1 lb black turtle beans, soaked overnight- I used Rancho Gordo Midnight Black Beans
2 Tablespoons lard (or canola oil)
1 large onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño, seeds removed, finely diced
2 carrots finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Bay leaf
1 teaspoon epazote
2 lbs Naturally smoked ham hocks, (use the best quality you can find, with plenty of meat on the bone)
Water
Salt
Pepper
Toppings:
Avocado
Lime Juice (we liked 1/2 lime, juiced per bowl)
Cotija Cheese, crumbled
Directions:
Place a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the lard to the pot along with onion, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, and epazote. Stir the vegetables and cook for five minutes of until they are beginning to soften.
When the vegetables are soft, add the beans and ham hocks to the pot and pour in enough water to cover the beans by about 3 inches. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat until the liquid maintains a very low simmer (the fewer bubbles the better). Partially cover the pot and let the beans simmer for 2-3 hours, until they are tender and the pork is falling off the bones.
Once the beans are cooked turn off the heat. Pull the ham hocks out of the liquid and set on a cutting board. Discard any fat and bones, shredding the remaining meat and return it to the pot. Discard the bay leaf. Drain off any excess liquid from the beans. Taste the beans and add salt and pepper as necessary.
To serve, scoop up a large spoonful of pork and beans into a serving bowl. Garnish with a liberal amount of lime juice, crumbled cotija cheese, and chunks of avocado.
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