Bean Crock has become the traditional dish of Jersey. It makes a filling but very tasty meal, and there are as many recipes as there are cooks - but they're all based on a mixture of dried beans, pork - preferably on the bone - or sometimes beef, and onions.
Traditionally, the jar of beans and meat was carried to the bakery to cook overnight. A good bean crock relies on long, slow cooking.
Traditional crock pots are still sold in Jersey - but you can use a large casserole dish with a lid, or even a slow cooker to make a bean crock.
Sometimes the beans used are just haricot beans, sometimes they are mixed beans. If you want to try making your own, Touzels Pet Shop near the Central Market sell mixed bags of beans for bean crocks, as well as the crock pots.
It was traditional to use pig's trotters - they give a rich gravy which forms a gel as it cools, but don't have much meat on them, so you need to add extra pork. Hocks can also be used. My recipe uses belly pork - easier to get and I don't have any problem getting a good thick gravy despite the lack of bones.
500g/1lb mixed beans
500g/1lb belly pork, cubed
4 bay leaves
Soak the beans overnight in cold water. If the mixture includes red kidney beans it is important to boil the beans for at least 10 minutes before putting them in the crock pot.
Put the beans, cubed pork and roughly sliced onions into the crock pot with the bay leaves and pepper.
Cover with water, and cook slowly in a moderate oven for at least five hours. Check periodically to see that there is still enough water. You want the bean crock to thicken up, but not burn or dry out.
Add salt towards the end of the cooking. Serve with crusty bread and perhaps some green salad.
At community events in Jersey such as Barn Dances, bean crocks may be brought and served by the organisers. If you sample them, you will find that every one is different. Some are thick, some thin, some have carrots added. I definately prefer mine on the thick side!
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