Monday, October 31, 2011

Comfort on a Rainy Day: White Beans with Pork Hocks

I grew up knowing there are two seasons in the Philippines:  a dry season and a wet season.  So I was surprised when my friends at Google informed me that there are actually three seasons: (hmm my Social Studies teacher taught me only 2 lol!):  the Hot Season (tag-init) from March to May, the Rainy Season (tag-ulan) from June to November and the Cold Season (tag-lamig) from December to February. I don't know when or how they changed it but  three seasons absolutely made perfect sense to me.

As I am writing this post, I get a phone call from my brother and Mama in Tuguegarao, my hometown in the Northern Philippines. I can hear the thunder in the background, and they tell me that it has been raining continuously for the past several days, as they are in the midst of the rainy season.  It has been raining over here in STL too and indeed, this was fortuitous as I had prepared a dish we loved to eat during the rainy days when we were kids. I can recreate this dish as perfectly as I can remember, well except for the full smoky flavor. This is because back home, the electricity would always go out during severe thunderstorms and we would cook the dish on a clay oven (a pugon) over a wood fire.  Using a pugon is the traditional way of cooking and the flavor it imparts on the dish is indelible.  My brother also feel nostalgic, remembering enjoying habichuelas (white beans with pork hocks) on those cold rainy days. 

There is a Latino food version of habichuelas, like the popular Puerto Rican dish Arroz con Habichuelas (rice and red or pink beans).  The Filipino habichuelas, or at least my version, is similar to pork and beans but is more of a stew.  I use fresh tomatoes, pork hocks and white beans.  To capture the smoky flavor, I saute the pork with fat-rendered from frying smoked bacon.  My first bite immediately transports me back to my hometown, I remember the rainy days with my family, huddling over the dining table enjoying this warm dish with piping hot white steamed rice.

White Beans with Pork Hocks
As mentioned it's been raining here in St. Louis and I have been cooking this at least once a week.   So I will show you both ways of how to cook it.  Either or, it works both ways.   Also you could use pork belly as an alternative to pork hocks, both make thicker, sticky stew.  It's super easy, it just needs preparation especially with the first method. But it's well worth it as it hits the spot especially on a chilly, rainy day!

1 cup white beans
1 pack pork hocks (around 5-6 pieces) you could also substitute it with pork belly
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
3 bay leaves, crushed
2-3 tbsp fat from rendered bacon
2-3 cups soup stock
salt and pepper to taste
*you could also use fish sauce to season the dish

Soak the beans overnight and refrigerate. Strain the beans and give it a quick rinse.  On a stock pot, put the beans and  pork hocks, add water just enough to submerge the beans and pork.  Bring it to boil until the beans and pork are tender.

On a different pan, saute garlic and onions with the fat rendered from smoked bacon. When onions are translucent, add tomatoes.  Stir and press the tomatoes into the pan, til tomatoes get wilted and soft and turning into almost like pureed. Add celery stalks. Now add the pork and beans into the pan. At this point, you may also add more soup stock, Let it simmer until you have a thicker, sticky stew of beans and pork.

Now for the second method.  You may omit the soaking of the beans.  You could also reverse the method by sauteing the garlic and onions until translucent.  Add tomatoes and press it into the pan until it gets wilted and soft.  Add pork hocks, bay leaf, then sprinkle some black pepper.  Mix it altogether until pork turns a little brown.  Add the beans and add soup stock.  Let it boil until meat and beans are tender.  Season with salt and pepper and you have a bowl ready to soothe you in this cold, rainy day... Enjoy!


  1. We love this too during fiestas. It's the same right?

  2. This is so comforting for Minnesota's two seasons: winter and not winter. You can tell I am thinking it is "winter" for I have bean soaking on the stove.

  3. To be honest I've never cooked with white beans, I just didn't know what to make of them. This dish looks so good I really have to give it a shot one day :-) !

  4. This sounds so warming and cozy and delicious! So perfect for cold rainy days. I really like the idea of cooking over a clay oven too. We've had the power go out so much here in VA in the last few years, maybe that's what we need!

  5. looks lovely love how food has the power to bring back memories

  6. I can't imagine having anything other than four seasons! How crazy. I think this sounds delicious for the cold season we're in right now!

  7. This would certainly be a comfort soup for our S. Florida rainy, and super windy days for the last two weeks!
    Super yummy bean soup...I can just smell the aroma of the pork hocks, when soup was slowly simmering. Oh, my! you got me on this one, it!

  8. Never tried Pork Hocks before - must be good! Pork belly is a great alternative too. I love the look of this soup. It has been showering and cold here for 2 days now. This will keep me nice and warm!

  9. My kids would love this! I used to make them something similar during chilly weather...mega comfort food :)
    Hope you are well and had a great weekend Malou, hugs

  10. Wonderful blog, sweetie! I'll be waiting for more! BTW, try to make your blog a bit more social.

    Mell Clark
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  11. Wow, that sends me right there in the thick of the thunderstorms, Ading Malou. Suddenly missing Papa big time, I need to go back soon, share this dish with him!!! What a lovely post. Hugs

  12. Will have to use turkey bacon and turkey/chicken meat for my family, what a lovely recipe and heartwarming memory of our days in two season three!! I did not now that either, Ading Malou.

  13. They are delicious, I tried this recipe with a spoon of molasses. Very nice.

  14. It taste delicious. I tried this recipe adding a spoon of molasses. Really nice. Thanks for your blog.

    1. thank you for taking the time to comment. i truly appreciate comments such as yours.
      mmm molasses sounds a good addition. makes it taste like hunts pork and beans i suppose?

  15. I like your version, because sautéing in bacon fat adds flavor. But I'm puzzled. You don't mention the addition of salt. What's it going to taste like without salt or some such seasoning? And you're supposed to add sugar, too.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. thank you for brining that up... yes i miss to write down the salt and pepper in the ingredients (i already edited it and added so)
      however in the last sentence of the procedure, i noted there that you season with salt and pepper to taste. You could also opt to use fish sauce or bouillon. the broth and the bacon fat and the hocks should help build the flavor of the dish. Thank you for your comment


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