The Jersey bean crock or Un Poit et des Pais au Fou is a very traditional and well loved Jersey dish. I must admit that I was intrigued to see how something so very simple cooked for so very long would turn out. My first thought was that there wouldn’t be enough flavour but figured I should at least try it first.
Pigs were kept by most Jersey families, evidence of this can be seen in the back yards of many of the traditional granite houses. We have 5 wonderful victorian brick pig stys in our back yard, unfortunately no pigs live there now but it is good to know they would have been well used by the Jersey families that once lived in our home. The pigs would have feasted on the apples that were no good for eating or making cider along with spoilt crops and probably kitchen peelings as well.
The dish is frequently served at community centres and parish events across the island, bean crock and bingo being a popular combination! Our parish of St Lawrence has a community market at the Parish Hall on the first Friday of every month where you can buy locally produced vegetables, sweet pies, preserves and crafts. They also serve scallop lunches and the traditional bean crock, but I urge you to get there early or all of the tables get filled, it is VERY popular which is a testement to the team in the kitchen.
So after chatting to some ladies in the community and looking at many traditional recipes I decided to invite my Mum and Dad over for our first ever cooking and tasting of this famous dish.
WOW…the gravy had thickened thanks to the trotter and it had the most wonderful rich pork flavour. I had chosen to be a little generous with my porky treats in the bean crock as I had some wonderful pork cheeks in the freezer, along with a piece of belly. I also added some garlic to my version of the recipe (earlier in the year I may have used garlic chive which growns everywhere!!) along with some Jersey Apple brandy and herbs from my garden.
My Recipe – Generously serves 6
Fat left over from last weeks roast dinner (in our case beef fat!) a couple of big tablespoons should do it
3 small onions, roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic (chopped or crushed) or a handful of chopped wild garlic chive
1/4 cup Jersey apple brandy (available from La Mare Vineyard) http://www.lamarewineestate.com/
1 kilo mixed dried beans – I used the ones from Fungi Delecti which are available from Andres Butcher in St John where I also sourced the trotter and belly for this recipe
1 pigs trotter
6 pig cheeks – an impulse buy from waitrose which was in my freezer waiting for a special recipe
1.9 kilo bone in pork belly cut down the bone into several pieces
1 Tbsp course ground pepper
Handful of both Sage and parsley from my herb garden
Salt to taste
Soak the beans overnight in cold water.
Boil the beans in fresh water for ten minutes, drain and set to one side.
Sweat off the onions and garlic in the beef fat and once softened add the apple brandy to help deglaze the bottom of the pot. Traditionally this would be an earthenware pot but I used a large deep casserole pot.
Add the cooked beans, pork, pepper and herbs to the pot and cover with water.
Bring to the boil and then put into the baking (Approx 180 C)oven uncovered for 4 hours, check the water level periodically and top up if the level gets too low. Then transfer to the simmering (Approx 150C) oven for 2 1/2 hours. Allow 15 minutes of resting prior to serving and add the salt at this point to your preference.
The best way to serve is with big hearty chunks of home baked bread – yum!!