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Bacon (pork) in green beans

  • d

So the go to way for me to make green beans is from the can into a pot after cooking up some bacon in there and right before the beans adding a bit of pepper and garlic, maybe a bit of onion, then the beans. I do try to use lean bacon, as I do anywhere, and trim some of the fat. My wife has been asking that I drain the fat before adding the beans.

I know that the bacon is for the taste, but that the fat is really what helps carry it through the beans. The salt of the bacon helps to soften the beans, but that's carried in that fat that cooks off as well. Draining the fat will defeat 80% of the purpose of using the bacon (pork).

So my question:
Am I wrong in those assumptions, or am I missing a point or is she missing a point?

No need to respond to the canned beans thing, I use fresh when called for, but these are for the side dish in the middle of the week that goes largely on autopilot.

Thanks!

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  1. Stand up for the fat!

    The glistening coat that the bacon fat imparts (enrobing--and ennobling--the simple, humble green bean) is an essential part of the experience. I'd take the bacon out before I'd drain off all the fat.

    3 Replies
    1. re: LT from LF
      h
      Hungry Celeste

      I'd find a new spouse before I ditched the fat. Every self-respecting southern cook has a jar of congealed bacon fat lurking in the fridge for just such occasions. This simplifies your mid-week prep: you don't even have to cook the bacon. Simply spoon out as much as you'd like. Economize on fat and calories someplace else (like skim milk or something). Smoked sausage, smoked ham hocks, salted pork, or tasso are all worthy substitutes for the bacon, BTW. Try this: add chunks of boiled potatoes to the dish. They'll soak up all the grease/bacon flavor....the potato chunks become the best part! If you're cooking beans from scratch, you can use raw potato.

      1. re: Hungry Celeste

        Yeah, really it isn't that much fat anyway, maybe a tablespoon or so in a few servings of beans? If you're worried about calories then exercise more so that you can eat what you want.

        1. re: john clark

          I do indeed have a jar of fat saved out. I like the potato idea, and maybe I just use less. I also think the idea of taking out the bacon itself may help reduce the appearance of too much in there.

    2. A strip or two of bacon is not going to add that much fat to the dish. Serve up with a slotted spoon and drain them. A good flavor addition is a red pepper pod and a head of fresh dill.

      1. j
        JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

        Sounds wonderful to me. Something I would do is take out the bacon, but leave the bacon grease. Saute the onions in that, add the garlic and let it heat up until it smells wonderful, then add the green beans and saute everything together until the green beans are as done as you like. You might want to add some kind of herbs at the end of cooking, too... my spidey sense says tarragon, but I'm nowhere near a kitchen, you might want to try taking a sniff of the sauteeing green beans, then a sniff of tarragon to imagine how the two would go together. The bacon will add a fair amount of saltiness, so check the seasonings on it before adding salt- it's much easier to add it than it is to take it back out!

        1 Reply
        1. My Grandma used to make this and I went through a phase of eating it quite a bit at home. The bacon grease is key. What I used to do to infuse the most bacon flavor was to cook up the bacon and onions, then add the canned green beans and cover the pan. The beans sort of steam in the bacon grease, resulting in the most bacon flavor in the beans.

          It was a little greasy but damn tasty. I wonder if I did it again... maybe after steaming, I would wipe out the grease from the pan and crank the heat for the last few minutes to get rid of the greasiness and caramelize things a bit.

          Great memories, thanks!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lee

            I'm going to have to try this one. Thanks for the variation.

          2. One thing to know is that the flavor elements in fat and/or smoked meats are in fact water-soluble, so that if you're really trying to avoid fat you can simply simmer a bunch of chopped bacon with maybe some onion and a pepper pod, strain and de-fat the resulting broth, and then cook your beans (or simmer canned ones) in that. I have done this, and it's better than nothing, especially with canned beans which need all the help they can get, poor things. I do usually return some (at least) of the boiled bacon to the pot, as it adds something I'd miss otherwise.

            I cooked some fresh wax beans like this last night, as I'd bought a couple of pounds of them the day before the Light of My Life announced she could no longer get into her favorite pants...