Homemade Pork and Beans

Pork and Beans

Pork and Beans is a well established part in the American diet which has evolved from a simple dish composed of salt pork, cooked beans and pepper to what is, according to the 1975 Better Homes and Garden Heritage Cookbook, the very first convenience food after it became widely available canned. It is also known as a ‘cowboy’ dish, mentioned in the song ‘The Old Chisholm Trail’ with the words ‘Oh, it’s bacon and beans most every day. I’d as soon be a-eatin’ prairie hay.’

Here is my recipe for Homemade Pork and Beans, made from scratch. I think you will like this one – especially for the upcoming cold days of winter.


2 c Cannellini Beans (White Kidney Beans), dry
1 t Baking Soda
6 c Water

2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½ lb. Fatback, cubed

1 Bell Pepper, Green chopped
1 med. Onion, yellow chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
3 cans Tomato paste (6 oz.)
¾ c Brown sugar
3 T Molasses
3 T Maple syrup
3 t Mustard, dry
¼ c Vinegar, cider
¼ t Liquid smoke

1 T Salt, Kosher

Pick through beans to remove any bad beans and debris. Rinse and place the beans in a bowl with 6 cups water, or enough water to cover them completely. Add 1 teaspoon baking soda (this helps to soften the bean skin), stir and allow to soak 6-8 hours or overnight.  Presoaking helps lessen the cooking time, but is not necessary to make these beans.

Beans Soaking

After soaking, rinse beans and place in pot. Cover the beans to one inch above the level of the beans and add two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Cook on high until boiling. Many recipes instruct you to skim the white foam from the beans, but this is not necessary and actually removes the water soluble protein provided by the beans for this dish. Once they have come to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer while preparing and adding the rest of the ingredients.

Beans Simmering

After adding the rest of the ingredients (except salt) continue simmering (but not boiling) for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and the beans are tender. Check the pot regularly to make sure the beans have enough water so they don’t dry out. Add salt at the end of the cooking process as it hinders the absorption of water by the beans.