During the 1928 presidential campaign, the Republicans promised a chicken in every pot, but the key to prosperity might just as well have been a can of pork and beans.
Pork and beans – plus a passel of culinary cousins such as baked beans, Boston baked beans and cowboy beans – has been an American pantry staple since the 1880s.
Indianapolis grocer Gilbert Van Camp introduced the first commercial canned product, and some sources suggest he may have gotten an earlier start supplying Union troops with the portable, rib-sticking meal.
Early recipes typically featured salt pork (nearly all fat) and navy beans or pea beans. Most commercially canned varieties eventually added tomato sauce, starch, sugar or high-fructose corn syrup and seasonings. Heating the beans before eating them also became fashionable, although there are those who prefer to eat them cold from the can.
This recipe for molasses-glazed pork and beans puts a modern spin on the popular comfort food with higher quality ingredients, including lean pork loin roast and reduced-sodium Great Northern beans cooked in a sweet-tangy sauce made of unsulfured molasses, pure maple syrup and cider vinegar.
MOLASSES-GLAZED PORK AND BEANS
Makes 6 servings
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 (1-1/2 pounds) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed of fat
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, with liquid
3 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 (15.8 ounce) can reduced sodium Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Stir together mustard and pepper. Rub 1 teaspoon of seasoning mixture evenly over the pork roast. Set remaining seasoning mix aside.
Heat oil in a cast-iron or oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add roast and cook until browned, turning to brown evenly. Remove roast from skillet and set aside.
Add onion and carrot to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Turn off heat. Move vegetables to the outer edges of the skillet and place roast in the center. Add bay leaves and pour tomatoes over vegetables; stir vegetables to combine.
Roast in oven, uncovered, 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together molasses, maple syrup and vinegar in a small bowl. Pour beans around meat and stir to combine with vegetables. Drizzle molasses mixture evenly over meat and vegetables.
Roast uncovered 10 to 15 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 150 degrees for medium doneness. Remove from oven and allow to stand 10 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves.
Slice meat and serve with bean-vegetable mixture.
Per serving: 308 calories (21 percent from fat), 7 g total fat (2 g saturated), 51 mg cholesterol, 34 g carbohydrates, 27 g protein, 76 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber.
Recipe developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathy Moore and Roxane Wyss.