Key Ingredient

Butter Beans and Rice

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
Photo by Denny Culbert

Food Culture of the South

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Makes 4 to 6 servings

  • ¾ cups dried butter beans or red beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder
  • diced
  • 8 ounces bacon
  • diced
  • 1½ cups finely diced onion
  • ¾ cups finely diced green bell pepper
  • ½ cup finely diced poblano pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1½ quarts chicken stock or water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons chopped oregano leaves
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups steamed white rice
  • hot
  • Hot sauce
  1. Place the beans in a large bowl, cover with 3 to 4 inches of water, and soak for 10 to 12 hours. Drain and rinse. (Butter beans have a thick skin, which gets papery and loose once soaked. If using, pick over beans and discard any loose skins that have separated.)
  2. In a large, heavy bottomed pan or dutch oven set over high heat, add oil and heat until shimmering. Add diced pork. Decrease heat to medium high and sear the meat stirring occasionally until pork is golden on all sides and slightly crispy, about 10 minutes. Scrape up any brown bits and stir them back into the mixture to release their flavor.
  3. Add bacon; as the liquid releases, use it to help scrape up anymore brown bits. Cook until fat is mostly rendered and bacon appears chewy but not crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove pork and bacon to a bowl and set aside.
  4. Return pan to stove. Increase heat to high and immediately add onions, bell pepper, poblano pepper, and garlic. Cook stirring frequently to avoid scorching and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pan, about 2 minutes. Decrease heat to medium high and continue cooking until onions are soft and translucent and peppers are wilted and shriveled, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Return pork and bacon to pan and stir to combine. Add rinsed beans, stirring to combine. Add chicken stock or water, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil, then decrease heat to low. Add bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme and cover pan. Cook for 45 minutes then remove and discard rosemary. Continue cooking, covered, stirring occasionally until pork pieces are falling apart tender and beans are creamy and breaking apart, about 2½ to 3 hours. (The ideal texture is thick and starchy gravy, not a liquid sauce or soup.) Remove bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. To serve, stir in oregano and parsley. Put hot rice in a serving bowl and ladle beans over top. Serve with hot sauce. Leftovers can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently over low heat.

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