This slow cooked pork and beans with smoked ham hock is like Heinz baked beans for grown ups. Subtly sweet beans paired with smoked pork make for a perfect comfort food classic.
There are few dishes that evoke the colder seasons for me than beans and smoked pork. So a few weeks ago when I found smoked ham hocks at my neighbourhood Russian market, I was delighted to put another winter comfort classic on the table.
The best part of this dish is the sheer simplicity. It's as hands off as meals come and the ingredients are simple.
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 2 cups of dry white or brown beans (or 3 cans drained)
- 1 red pepper, finely diced
- 2 yellow onions, finely diced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can water (for canned beans) / 2.5 cans water (for dry beans)
- One and a half tablespoons sweet paprika
- Half a teaspoon oregano
- Half a teaspoon summer savoury or thyme
- A quarter of a teaspoon black pepper
- Salt to taste (I used about 1.5 teaspoons)
- Sugar to taste
You basically just throw everything into a pot and slow cook in the oven, slow cooker or Instant Pot for 3-4 hours.
More hearty meals:
- Smoky Romanian Bean Stew
- Crispy Parmesan & Herb Chicken Quarters with Roast Potatoes
- Romanian Slow Roasted Caramelized Cabbage
- Romanian Sour Meatball Soup
- Homemade Pappardelle with Sicilian Anchovy & Breadcrumb Sauce
If you're using canned beans then all you need are the ingredients above.
If you're using dry you'll need to soak them for a few hours before cooking and then add up to one and a half additional cans of water.
Tips for different cooking methods
Personally I recommend simply using an oven for this if you have the option. The dry heat will caramelize the ingredients and create a beautiful flavour. If you only have a slow cooker or Instant Pot then here are some tips.
Since ovens create a dry heat environment you can get some nice browning on the meat and develop good umami flavour from the caramelization of the sugars and proteins in the beans.
Use a heavy bottom pot with a lid (ideally cast iron like a Dutch oven). Slow cook at 150 C / 300 F covered for 2 hours and then uncovered for 2 hours.
If using canned beans then simply put everything in your slow cooker and cook on medium heat for 3-4 hours.
If you start dry beans in the slow cooker it will take a long time at low heat until they're soft. I suggest boiling the beans first (in a regular pot or under pressure) until soft and then put everything in your slow cooker and cook on medium heat for 3-4 hours.
If using canned beans then put all the ingredients into the Instant Pot and cook on the slow cooker function set to 'normal' for 3-4 hours.
If using dry beans then follow the same steps but add 1.5 additional cans of water.
If there's too much liquid
If the stew hasn't reduced enough either midway through cooking or at the end then continue cooking and remove lid if using + up the heat being sure to stir often (scraping the bottom of the pot) if the heat is very high.
If there's not enough liquid
If using dry beans first check the doneness. If the beans are still hard, add another whole can. If they're almost done then add half a can.
If the beans are done but the stew is just too thick - add water a little at a time - ¼ cup or so - until desired thickness is achieved.
After cooking the stew should be thick and the meat falling off the bone. Use two forks to shred the meat into the stew and then remove the bones and any big fatty bits.
Serve hot with crusty bread. Hope you enjoy this winter comfort food classic!
Slow Cooked Pork & Beans with Smoked Ham Hock
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 2 cups dry white or brown beans or 3 small cans drained beans of choice
- 1 red pepper finely diced
- 2 yellow onions finely diced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 3.5 cans water 1 can water for canned beans / 2.5 cans water for dry beans*
- 1.5 tablespoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon summer savoury or thyme
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1.5 teaspoons salt To taste - I used about 1.5 teaspoons
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Preheat oven to 150 C / 300 F.
- Put all the ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot like a Dutch oven and slow cook for 2 hours covered and 2 more hours uncovered.
- If there is too much liquid at the end then continue cooking uncovered (in oven or on stovetop) while stirring often until reduced.