Are you looking for a recipe to feed the family on the cheaper side? This Beans With Pork Shank recipe in the Crock Pot might be the one for you.
Embrace the Flavors in This Recipe
I was looking through my Romanian recipes the other day, trying to figure out what to make for dinner.
You might think that as a food blogger, I should have my stuff together and always whip some magic ingredients together into an excellent meal that looks amazing.
Well, wrong, my friends. Like you, I sometimes go into this "blank mind" mode and lose inspiration. Lucky me, I am obsessed with cookbooks, and I always turn to them when I am in a funk for new ideas.
I do not use my crock pots very often (I have two of them) because I have some issues with the texture of some ingredients that cook too much.
Once in a while, though, especially during the cold season and when we are into a deep freeze in Minnesota, like now, I take the crock pot out of the closet and use it.
Beans are notoriously good for you and perfect to feed a small or big family on the cheaper side. They are full of fiber and other nutrients, and when served hot on a cold day, beans are definitely a comfort meal that "sticks to your ribs," as they say.
This recipe is a classic Romanian bean and pork shank recipe that can be made on the stove (it takes some time) or in a slow cooker.
It is full of delicious spices, and I think that after you try it once, you might come back to it over and over again.
If you make the recipe, you will see that cooking the beans the way I am telling you will build many layers of flavor into the dish.
You can make the recipe with all kinds of meats instead of pork shank. Bacon, ham, regular pork meat, or ham hock are all excellent choices for the recipe.
However, in my humble opinion, nothing is better than smoked meats with beans.
Instead of adding aromatics to the beans at the beginning of the cooking process, Romanians choose to make a sauce and include most of the spices almost at the end.
There are bay leaves and thyme cooked with beans to ensure that the beans have some flavor. However, the real treat comes at the end.
A combination of onion, garlic, red peppers, and carrots is cooked separately, in a skillet, with tomato sauce and all the spices. This mixture goes into the almost-cooked beans.
Adding this fresh layer of flavors at the end is a perfect way to ensure that beans are delicious without overwhelming them.
Reducing Bean-Related Digestive Effects
Well, we all know that beans make us gassy. However, that should not scare you away because there are ways to minimize its effects of it.
- One method is to soak the beans overnight with some baking soda. Place the beans into a pot, add water to cover them, and pour a teaspoon of baking soda over them.
Bring them to a boil and turn the heat off. Allow them to soak in that water overnight. The following day discard the water and rinse the beans very well, then proceed with the recipe.
- A second method is to soak them for 12 hours or overnight. The next day, discard the water and rinse them well. Add water back to the pot, bring to a boil, then discard the water again.
- Add potato to the recipe.
- Add epazote. This is a Mexican herb used in a lot of traditional Mexican dishes.
- Add caraway seeds.
How to make beans with pork shank
Step 1. Clean, rinse and soak the beans overnight.
We are going to start with the beans. Check them and make sure you pick and discard any small stones you might find. Rinse the beans very well.
The easiest way to check the beans for small stones is to spread them out over a large plate or rimmed baking sheet.
When I was growing up, this was one of the most important steps before cooking the beans. The process was done right on the kitchen table.
Also, it takes some planning in advance as you will need to remember the step of soaking the beans in water the night before.
Step 2. Fill up the crockpot with ingredients.
The next morning, discard the water, rinse the beans again, then place them in the crock pot.
Add the pork shank, bay leaves, thyme, oil, and peppercorns, and cover with water.
We will not add salt to the recipe because smoked meat is usually very salty.
Add to the pot 2-3 carrots, a parsnip, and 1-2 potatoes chopped in quarters.
You do not want to chop the carrots or the potatoes small because they will disintegrate in the pot after 6 hours of cooking.
I do not know if the legend is true or not, but Romanians believe that if you add a potato to the beans, it helps to minimize the effect on the digestive system. Hey, whatever helps, right?
At this point, basically, you are done for the next few hours. Cover the pot and program it to cook the beans on high for about 5-6 hours. If you choose a low setting, you will need about 8 hours.
The beans you see in the pictures kind of cooked too much as I set up the crock pot on high for about 7 hours, and that killed them. So, don't do what I did, especially if you know your slow cooker.
After 4 hours, check the beans. They might not be cooked yet, so leave them for another hour or so. This is what my beans looked like after 6 hours:
When the beans are almost cooked, start the sauce.
Remove the bay leaves and the root vegetables. Carrots, parsnips, and potatoes are coming out at this point. Place them in a bowl and set them aside.
You have two choices with them. You can discard them, but you can pure them with some salt and butter and eat them. The second choice would be to pure them and add them back to the beans to make the sauce a little thicker.
Whatever you choose, don't throw them out. I hate to waste food!
Remove the meat, let it cool for a few minutes until you can handle it, and place it on a cutting board. Remove the bones, skin, and excess fat and shred the meat into bite-size.
Set the meat aside while you start the sauce.
Use a skillet that you place on medium heat. Add oil to the pan. Chop carrots small and saute them first while you chop the onion and the peppers.
Add them also to the carrots and cook them.
Add crushed garlic to the mixture and keep cooking on medium heat. Stir once in a while. Add dried tarragon, thyme, paprika, caraway seed powder, and black pepper, and taste for salt.
Caraway seeds help with flatulence and digestion and also add a good flavor to the dish. You don't need to use them if you don't like them.
Be careful with the salt, as the ham is probably over-salted as well, and you might end up with a very salty dish.
Add the tomato sauce and stir to combine.
Use a ladle to add some of the bean liquid to this sauce. Let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add this sauce to the crock pot, and also add the shredded meat.
Finally, add the dried dill, stir and cover the crock pot. Let it cook for another 15-30 minutes, so the flavors have time to get friendly with each other.
How to serve
Serve warm with fresh bread. A glass of white wine goes well too.
Note: Increase the crockpot time if the beans are not cooked yet. Some beans are drier than others, and they might require additional cooking time. The beans should be soft and hold their shape, not mushy.
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Beans With Pork Shank In The Crock Pot
- 1 medium to big pork shank
- 1 pound dry beans soaked overnight
- 5 cups of water
- 2-3 medium carrots peeled and cut in big chunks
- 1 medium parsnip peeled and cut in big chunks
- 1 potato peeled and cut in quarters
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 5-10 peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
For the sauce:
- 1 red bell pepper chopped small
- 1 small carrot peeled and chopped small
- 1 medium onion peeled and chopped small
- 3-4 garlic cloves peeled and chopped small
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon caraway seed powder
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- salt to taste
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- Place beans in a big bowl and cover them with water. Let them soak overnight.
- The next morning, place the beans, pork shank, bay leaves, peppercorns, oil and thyme in the crock pot.
- Add water and make sure it covers the beans.
- Add carrots, parsnip and the potato. Cover and cook until beans are tender, about 5 ½ hours on high, or 8-9 hours on low.
- Discard the bay leaves, the carrots, parsnip and the potato.
- Transfer the pork shank to a cutting board, let cool slightly, and shred the meat into bite size pieces, discarding skin, bones, and excess fat.
- Set aside.
- Separately, in a skillet, pour oil and saute the chopped carrots first for 1-2 minutes until they get softer. Add chopped onion and red pepper over the carrots and saute them as well.
- Add crushed garlic to the mixture and keep cooking on medium heat. Stir once in a while.
- Add dried tarragon, thyme, paprika, caraway seed powder, black pepper and taste for salt. (Note: Be careful with the salt, as the ham is probably over salted as well)
- Use a ladle to add some of the bean liquid to this sauce. Let the sauce simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomato sauce and stir to combine.
- If you want a thicker sauce on your beans, you can mash the root vegetables into a pure and add them to the beans, or use them separately for a quick winter salad.
- Add this sauce to the crock pot and also add the shredded meat.
- Finally, add the dried dill, stir and cover the crock pot. Let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Serve warm with fresh bread. A glass of white wine goes well too.
- Note: Increase the crockpot time if the beans are not cooked yet. Some beans are drier than others and they might require additional time. The beans should be soft and hold their shape.