from Bread & Water

I ate this succulent bean dish in a small traditional comidas in northern Spain, where cooks make the most of their pork products. There, this is made with shreds of leftover jamon, air-cured pork leg. As a kid, I ate my mom’s version, with smoked pork hock or ham, just as delicious! Any extras can find their way into lunch quesadillas or the next pot of soup.

Serves 10-12


1 smoked pork hock

2 cups Great Northern beans

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 head garlic, minced

2 onions, minced

2 carrots, chopped coarsely 

2 celery stalks, chopped coarsely 

1 tsp. anise seed, cracked

2 bay leaves

2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried basil

1 or 2 whole star anise pods

1/2 stick cinnamon, broken

½ cup pomegranate molasses

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 lemon, zest and juice

sherry vinegar to taste

olive oil to taste


Cook the pork hock in water until tender, about 1 ½ – 2 hours. Pull from the bone and shred or chop the meat. Keep warm with the cooking liquid.

In a separate pot, cook the beans slowly in generous amounts of water, covered, until tender, adding water as needed, about 2 hours.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, carrots and celery, and sauté over low heat. Add the herbs and pomegranate molasses. Stir this mixture into the beans. Add the pork and cooking water. Continue cooking for another hour or until tender. 

Season with salt, pepper, lemon zest and juice, vinegar and oil. Serve warm.

Nada’s Tips & Tricks: I like making dishes like this when herbs are fresh out of the garden and freezing it to bring comfort on a cold, snowy day.  Check the butcher stands at your farmer’s market for the pork hock – you’ll taste the difference in the end product.