We had quite the cold spell a while back, so I during it I felt the need to make a one-pot, stick-to-your-ribs kind of stew. And what better cuisine from which to choose than Greek. It’s often the direction I take for satisfying and comforting dishes, like pastitsio and moussaka.
For these times, I refer to an old cookbook, called Flavors of Greece, published in 1991, and authored by Rosemary Barron. And in it I found exactly what I was looking for – a Greek version of pork and beans.
The beans in this dish are giant white Lima beans, and the meat includes pork shoulder, bacon, and sausage.
The bean and pork components are layered, then topped with a thick bread crumb and Parmesan crust. Oddly enough, it reminds me of a giant cassoulet!
Traditional Pork and Bean Casserole
1 1/2 pounds dried butter beans, soaked overnight
3 pounds boneless lean pork shoulder
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced pastourma´s ham or bacon
3 cups chopped onion
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup red wine
2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, diced, juices reserved
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup dried oregano
2 tablespoons ground coriander
5 whole cloves
4 juniper berries, lightly crushed
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 – 1 1/2 cups meat stock
1/2 country sausages
1 cup fresh whole-wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup kasse´ri cheese or Parmesan
Cook and drain the soaked beans. I cooked mine in chicken stock. Set aside.
Cut the pork into 1” cubes. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet and lightly brown half the meat over medium heat. Repeat with the remaining meat.
Add the bacon and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Add the garlic, cook 1 minute longer, and add the red wine. Bring to a boil and boil a minute or two, then stir in the tomatoes with their juices, honey, oregano, coriander, cloves, juniper berries, parsley, salt, and pepper.
Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Add 1 cup of the stock and simmer 5 minutes longer.
Add the meat, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer 30 minutes longer; add stock if there appears to be less than 2 cups of sauce. Season to taste. The sauce should be highly flavored.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Slice the sausages into 1/2” thick slices and combine with the beans.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the bottom of a heavy casserole and cover with one third of the sausages and beans. Cover with a layer of half the meat mixture, then half the remaining beans, then the remaining meat. Top with a layer of the remaining beans.
With the back of a wooden spoon, gently press down on the beans so some of the sauce rises to the surface.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs and cheese on top.
Sprinkle with the remaining olive oil, cover, and bake 45 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F and bake 1 1/2 hours longer, until a golden crust has formed.
Remove the casserole lid and bake 10 minutes, or until the crust is deep golden brown.
I let the casserole sit for at least 45 minutes, without the lid, before serving.
Even though I used a large/wide Le Creuset for this casserole, it was so thick I wasn’t sure how to serve it up!
For the sake of this post, I cut out a square so the layers would show.
The casserole is quite stunning. And the flavors are just what you’d expect. Tomatoes, herbs, meat – a lovely, rustic meal.
And the meat is extremely tender.
Note: The recipe also included dried marjoram and winter savory — neither of which I had.