Scott: Pork and Beans is one of those dishes that takes you way back. My mother was fond of Van Camp’s brand Pork and Beans. She also kept plenty of Beanee Weanee on hand. I have to confess I felt a little weird typing that just now.
Paula: Meanwhile, I needed to Google Beanee Weanee to see if they’re still around (your nostalgic dreams can come true here.) A throwback combo for sure--canned pork and beans remind me of a Brady Bunch episode in which Bobby and Peter hid the mixture in a flashlight, as a meal for their lost Native American friend. Promise me you’ll never serve me food from the barrel of an emptied out metal flashlight.
Scott: I promise not to do that because that is precisely where I would keep my collection of tiny Jack Daniels bottles and single package of waterproof matches.
Paula: You’re crafty like that. But we’ve seriously digressed--I promise the following spin on Pork and Beans will inspire their own reverie. Pork tenderloin is dynamite for weeknight cooking because it cooks quickly and its mild flavor makes it so versatile. But it needs a leg up in the flavor department, so here I season the cubes of meat with a generous coating of Pork Perfect (the spicy, subtly sweet blend of red spices is a pig’s best friend). Then, I skewer the meat (I love to use sturdy sprigs of fresh rosemary or bay leaves, because I have them in the backyard, but you can use anything you like) and give the kebabs a quick spin directly over a charcoal fire. Here’s the kicker: the meat finishes cooking to juicy perfection slowly, on the cool side of the grill, over a pan of saucy beans. As the meat cooks, the seasoned drippings add another layer of goodness to the beans.
Are you still there? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Clearly you’ve returned to the pantry for another can of Beanee Weanees.
Smoky Pork & Beans with Pork Perfect
Serves 4 to 6, with leftover beans
For the beans:
- 4 cups cooked beans (such as navy, red, or pinquitos), or 2 19-ounce cans, drained
- 1 cup chicken or bean broth
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ¾ cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
- 1 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 tablespoons Creole mustard
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs (optional)
- Salt and pepper
For the pork:
- 2 pork tenderloins (about 1¼ pounds each), trimmed
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- ¼ cup Pork Perfect
- 4 skewers or sturdy herb sprigs or skewers
Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking, and build a medium-high fire, or heat a gas grill to high. Meanwhile, prepare the beans.
Combine the beans, broth, garlic, onion, Worcestershire, hot sauce, Creole mustard, and thyme sprigs in a disposable aluminum container (roughly 8 x 10 size, mixture should come half way up container). Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and set aside.
Slice the tenderloins into 1 ½ - 2-inch cubes. Place the meat in a large bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat and sprinkle with Pork Perfect. Use your hands to toss the meat until it’s evenly coated with the seasoning. Divide the meat between skewers or herb sprigs.
When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, add a couple wood chunks to the fire, then clean and oil the grates. Use tongs to carefully remove the cooking grate and place the container of beans on the cool side of the grill. Return the grate, and when the fire begins to produce a steady stream of smoke, place pork skewers over direct heat and cook until the meat is charred on all sides (about 4-5 minutes total). Use tongs to transfer the meat to the cool side of the grill, over the beans. Close the grill, vent for smoking and cook until the meat just cooked through (when an instant read thermometer reads 145℉ for medium rare), about 10 minutes. Remove the skewers from the heat and cover with foil.
Remove the beans from the grill, remove and discard thyme, taste and adjust seasonings, adding more hot sauce or salt and pepper as desired. If a thicker consistency is desired, transfer the beans to a saucepan and simmer until the liquid is reduced as desired.
Serve each skewer over a pool of warm beans.
Grill-side banter provided by food writer, cookbook author and grilling enthusiast, Paula Disbrowe, and infamous grill nerd and co-owner of PK Grills, Scott Moody.
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