Michel Nischan likes to modernize classic New England recipes for Dressing Room's menu, which he calls "updated heritage cuisine." Here he puts a spin on traditional baked beans by swapping bacon with fresh pork belly and replacing the usual molasses with fresh quince, which sweetens the beans while also thickening the sauce.
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1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 pounds pork belly, skin discarded, belly sliced 1 inch thick and cut into 1-inch dice
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cups dried Tarbais or cannellini beans (26 ounces), soaked overnight and drained
2 pounds quince (about 4)—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup snipped chives
How to Make It
Heat the olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. In 2 batches, cook the pork belly over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pork belly to a plate. Add the onion to the casserole and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pork belly and the beans, tomatoes, thyme and bay leaves. Add the Ham Hock Stock and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over low heat until the beans are almost tender, about 45 minutes. Skim off the fat with a ladle.
Add the quince to the beans and season with salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook until the pork, beans and quince are very tender, about 45 minutes longer.
Preheat the oven to 425°. Transfer the beans to one 3-quart or two 1 1/2-quart baking dishes and bake until the top is lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the chives and serve.
The baked beans can be refrigerated overnight.
This ultra-satisfying take on baked beans, a classic American dish, deserves an ultra-satisfying American red wine perhaps a voluptuous Zinfandel from a warm growing region like California's Paso Robles.
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