Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pork and Beans

Inspired by Alyce's pimp-my-prepackaged-foods post, I would like to share another "semi-homemade" strategy: recycling restaurant leftovers.

Most of us usually end up throwing out that sad tin of food we get wrapped up to go, myself included. In fact, the more expensive the entrée, the more likely it is to be unappetizing when reheated. (I'm thinking the continuum goes from pizza to duck breast.) However, if you disguise leftovers as ingredients in dishes rather than just microwaving them, they're much more appealing.

In this case, I combined some leftover restaurant pork ribs with a can of pink beans and some other refrigerator go-tos for a really flavorful, totally homemade-tasting dish. (If you have leftover pork chops or something similar, you could dice these. Diced ham, sausage, or, hell, hot dogs would also work. It's pork and beans, people, you're supposed to work with whatsoever hunk of meat you have.)

I heated a couple tablespoons of olive oil over low heat in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and tossed in a few cloves of chopped garlic to sauté for a couple minutes.

I added a handful of halved grape tomatoes that had been getting wrinkly in the fridge for a week or so (a dish like this is great for using up your about-to-go-bad produce). You could also just do a small can of tomato sauce or even a few healthy squirts of ketchup.

I added a can of pink beans, drained and rinsed in a strainer; a bay leaf; a sprinkling each of kosher salt and pepper; a sprinkling each of cumin seeds and dried thyme (you could skip or vary the latter two with other seasonings); half a chipotle-in-adobo, diced (again, you can skip this, especially if you're not a spicy-food person; about half a bottle of beer; and a splash of chicken stock. (The solids should be fully covered by liquid; supplement with water if you like.) I turned up the burner heat to high.

Tip: Buy a can of chipotles in adobo sauce and save what you don't use in a clean mustard or salsa jar (since the metal can will react badly with it once opened). You can keep this on your fridge door as long as you would ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, etc., using individual chiles or halves, and sometimes the adobo.
While this came to a boil, I used my fingers to shred the meat off the leftover pork ribs.

Once the liquid boiled, I turned the heat down to medium-low and stirred in the pork meat, plus a couple tablespoons of brown sugar. (You could also do molasses.) If you used ketchup instead of tomatoes/tomato sauce, go easy on the sugar here.

I covered the pan and let the liquid cook down for about an hour, stirring every 10 minutes or so with a wooden spoon. You could do this in less time if you cracked the lid on the pot to let some steam escape, so the liquid cooks down faster, but if you have a little extra time the flavors will develop more.

I plated this with honey-glazed roast chicken legs (recipe coming soon) and steamed green beans tossed in lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. But you could serve it to your friends straight out of the pot with a spoon for each person, and argue that it's much more authentically Depression-retro-chic than faux "speakeasies" selling $16 cocktails.

1 comment:

  1. ok, so i totally agree, i always have chipotles in adobo in some sort of a jar in the fridge, it's a great addition to hamburgers, marinades, etc.
    i agree with the cheaper the entree, the better the leftovers. i love heating leftover chinese food up in a skillet over a flame with sauteed garlic and onions and crushed red pepper. yummy!