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Pulled pork and barbecue beans cooking on the grill. (Credit: John Ross)
Pulled pork and barbecue beans cooking on the grill. (Credit: John Ross)

“Pork and beans were one of the earliest convenience foods in America,” North Fork chef John Ross writes in his column this week. “They came in a can, ready to eat, hot or cold, right out of the can if necessary.”

He notes that ready-to-eat beans have become a fast food staple at our summer cookouts, but if you slow-cook the pork, you are in for something special.

Below he offers his recipe for the slow food version of pulled pork, perfect for any Independence Day barbecues. Enjoy!

Pulled Pork and Barbecue Beans
(Note: Before you turn away from this recipe because of the total time involved, realize that there is very little active time. You just have to plan ahead.)

Purchase 1 pound of Great Northern dried beans, rinse and cover with cold water about 2 inches above the beans. Refrigerate overnight.

Purchase a fresh pork butt, about 3 pounds, and make the following rub: Combine 2 tablespoons smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon celery seed, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon coarse salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Rub this mixture on all sides of the pork butt and refrigerate while preparing the beans.

Heat a Dutch oven and add 1/2 pound of chopped bacon, 1 chopped onion and 1 minced jalapeno pepper. Cook at medium heat for 10 minutes and add 1/2 cup tomato paste, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup molasses.

Drain the soaking beans and add to the pot along with 2 cups of vegetable stock. Season with 1 tablespoon coarse salt, 1 teaspoon ground pepper and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Place the seasoned pork butt in a shallow casserole. Combine the juice from 1 orange with 1/2 cup Pernod liqueur and 1/2 cup red wine vinegar. Pour this over the pork and add the orange rind.

Heat your char-grill to 300 degrees (either charcoal or gas grill will work) and place the covered pot of beans on the grill. Cover the pork butt with heavy foil and place it on the grill beside the beans. Close the lid and cook for 3 hours, making sure to keep the heat low.

While this is cooking, soak some wood chips in water. (I used apple chips, but hickory or mesquite work fine.) When the 3 hours are up, remove the cover from the beans and the foil from the pork and add the soaked wood chips to the fire. Close the lid and let the beans and pork cook another hour. If the beans look a little dry, add some more stock or water.

After a total of four hours, remove the pork and beans. Let the pork butt cool and break it apart with two forks. It will come apart easily. Then separate the fibers with your fingers and remove any fat and gristle. Add a little commercial barbecue sauce (about 1 cup) and keep warm.

Check the beans for seasoning and serve from the pot. Serve the pulled pork on hamburger buns.

Serves 4-6.