Thursday, April 10, 2014

Crockpot Borlotti Beans with Smoked Pork

Cream and burgundy Borlotti beans are sometimes called cranberry or French horticultural beans but they all seem to come from the same original new world source, the cargamanto bean first cultivated in Colombia. Near as I can figure. 

Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely considering how small the world has become these days, I first discovered Borlottis (or one of their close cousins) as fresh beans in a small vegetable stall in Kuala Lumpur. They were already shelled but their distinctive red marks attracted me immediately. This was years ago (2007, in fact) when Nigella was still doing her quick dinners on television. She was home alone and had pan-fried a thin steak to eat with some mashed white beans as her side. I tried some version of her recipe with the fresh borlottis and fell in love with them. Nowadays, I can’t find the fresh ones so I make do with dried. But, you know what?  They are also fabulous. Maybe I’m just a bean person. Are you?

I made this one-pot dish in my crockpot a while back and I’ve been wanting to share it with you. I love the slow cooker for busy days when I can’t be standing around stirring a pot. Fill, turn it on and walk away! Come back in a few hours and you’ve got dinner. If you can’t get smoked pork neck steaks, by all means use whatever you’ve got. A smoked ham hock would be great, as would any kind of sausage.

2 medium onions
2 handfuls cloves garlic (Let’s not get anal about how many. You like garlic? Hum more in.)
2 lb 3 oz or 1 kg smoked pork neck steaks
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 lb+ or 500g dried Borlotti beans
2 bay leaves

Slice your onions and lay a third of them at the bottom of your crockpot or slow cooker. Add a third of the garlic cloves.

Top with a third of the smoked pork steaks or whatever meat you are using. Sprinkle with sea salt and a few good grinds of fresh black pepper.

Add on one third of your Borlotti beans.

Keep layering, onions and garlic, pork steak, salt and pepper then beans until you get to the final layer of beans.

Add water to cover the beans by at least one inch or two centimeters.  Add another few grinds of pepper, if you are so inclined and tuck a couple of bay leaves into the water. Cover the pot and turn it on low.

Totally forgot to take a photo with the bay leaves but they did go in!

You’ll have beans and pork ready to eat in six to eight hours, depending on how old your beans were to start. Older beans have dried out more so they take a little longer to cook. Check them in around four to five hours and add more water, if necessary. You don’t even need to stir.

When they are done, I like to take a half cup or so of beans out and mash them with a fork.  I add the mashed beans back into the crockpot to thicken the broth beautifully.

Serve with rice or a crusty loaf to sop up the broth and, if you are me, some pepper sauce.



  1. I love this, with the shrimp added, too! I make mine very simple as well, but occasionally also add finely diced cucumbers and tomatoes. My husband likes the ceviche with the veggies in it. We eat on top of tortilla chips with a splash of hot sauce, occasionally. Great recipe, Stacy! Now I want some, stat!

  2. Hi Stacy! I love fresh beans especially when I find them already shelled. This is killer combination... beans and smoked port... hearty and delicious. My mother used to make salad with borlotti beans which I loved but I've never tried to make for myself maybe it is time to get that recipe from her!

  3. I'm so glad to hear that you spent sometime of your life in my country, was it the seventies or eighties? Ceviche if our national dish. Te felicito tu receta esta muy buena.

  4. I have ceviche on my list of things I want to make - this looks like summer on a plate so fresh and clean. I love the backstory Stacy.

  5. This looks great! I don't think I have ever had this dish but I want to try it now. BTW, I had a Honda 70 myself......can you believe it? I loved that little thing. Mine was red.

  6. I love cranberry beans too! Beans and Rice are such a wonderful mix - I miss eating them on a regular basis because unless it is refried beans and Mexican rice, no one here likes beans.........however, I think I will make these and then portion them out and freeze for work-lunch. Sounds wonderful!

  7. Ours was blue! Best little motorbike ever! I was so sad when we had to say goodbye.


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