Braised Maple-Bourbon Pork with Beans
Combining pork shoulder, kielbasa sausage and cannellini beans, this warming stew braises to tender perfection in a slow cooker. Be sure to soak the beans overnight before adding them to the stew; this will help them to cook more evenly.
- 2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 4 pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 2 lb. kielbasa (2 large links), each cut into 3 pieces
- 3 yellow onions, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 Tbs. minced garlic
- 3 Tbs. tomato paste
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 1/2 lb. cannellini beans, soaked overnight and drained
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 4 oz. bacon, diced
- 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Season the pork lightly with salt and pepper. In the stovetop-safe insert of a slow cooker over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the pork and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate. Add the sausages and brown on all sides, about 3 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaf and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bourbon and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the tomatoes, cannellini beans, maple syrup and broth. Nestle the pork into the bean mixture and arrange the sausages around the pork. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Transfer the insert to the slow-cooker base, cover and cook on high according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the pork and beans are tender, about 4 hours. Skim the fat off the sauce, and remove and discard the bay leaf. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Preheat a broiler.
In a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until crisp and browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard all but 1 Tbs. of the fat in the pan. Add the bread crumbs and sage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and toasted, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and bacon.
Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the pork mixture. Broil until the bread crumbs are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Serves 8 to 10.