Pork and beans can be fancy too with these simple tweaks

I was recently accepted into a very special club that had been waiting for years. It feels like it took at least five times but I can’t remember when I actually signed up. Probably in the early days of the pandemic, I was absolutely desperate for the community – any community.

You might think the club is an elite hideout where I’d have to pay to wear a blazer and still eat at the restaurant, but no, this club is a bean club. Yes, you read it right. I am now officially a member of a club where I will buy pounds of dried heirloom beans from small sustainable farms in California, the greater USA, Mexico and beyond. Full disclosure: This is an ad-free column, so the club will remain anonymous.

I received my first shipment last week, which is exciting but also confusing. We’re in the middle of green bean season right now, so buying baked beans isn’t exactly what my pantry needs. Farmers’ markets are brimming with all kinds of gorgeous string and shell beans, such as fine baked beans, broad and long Romano beans, cranberries, and more. The bean bounty is very real.

This week’s column celebrates beans old and new: Fresh Romano beans and your choice of baked beans in a salad that feels light, fresh, crunchy, and creamy all at the same time. It’s so light that I like to serve it with something really rich, like pork tenderloin.

Usually used for a long roast, pork shoulder has become my go-to since I realized it’s easier to cook, tastier, and cheaper than bone-in chops. Sorry, pork chop.


I season these boneless pork shoulder steaks with dried onion, garlic, and some crushed chile before cooking them in a skillet until they’re deeply caramelized and golden brown. While they’re resting, I generously pour Dijon mustard and drizzle honey on top so each slice is filled with sweetness, tangy, and allium flavor.

I garnished the salad with lemon juice, softened shallots and some salt. It sounds incredibly simple, but the basic flavors of delicious pork, creamy pods of beans, crunchy Romano beans, lemon, honey, and Dijon are nutritious yet rich and full of flavor.

Going back to which bean works well in a salad, along with a fresh bean like romano or wax, the choice of fresh or dried skinned beans is entirely up to you. If that’s what you can find or have on hand, I suggest a large white bean like a corona, or even a cannellini or pinto. Remember: you’re your own bean club, it’s private, and you don’t have to wait or wear a blazer.

Christian Reynoso is a chef, recipe developer and author. Originally from Sonoma, she lives in San Francisco. Email: [email protected] Instagram: @christianreynoso Twitter: @xtianreynoso

Honey Dijon Pork and Beans

Sweet honey, tangy mustard, and juicy pork steak balance crispy string beans in summer with creamy shell beans. If you don’t see a pork steak in the meat box, ask the butcher to cut it for you.

for 4 people

2 boneless shoulder steak, each about ¾ – 1 inch thick, (about 2 pounds total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
one pound fresh green beans, baked beans, or Romano beans, stemmed
¼ cup chopped shallots
4 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar
cups of cooked, drained shell beans, such as corona, cannellini, or pinto
½ teaspoon crushed chile flakes
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
3 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
Dijon mustard, for serving
Wildflower honey for serving
cup arugula, optional
flake salt for serving

Instructions: Dry the pork steaks and place them on a plate for about 20-30 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, heat a large pot of salted water and boil the green beans until al dente tender; basically, let them have the feeling of being cooked, but not quite. Strain the beans in a strainer and rinse them gently with cold water so they are cool to the touch, but not cold. Set it aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the shallots and lemon juice. Add the green beans and drained pods and season with salt and pepper. Toss well to coat everything with lemon juice and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the chile flakes, garlic and onion powders.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat. Season the pork steaks with salt and pepper and then coat with the chile spice mix. Carefully slide the steaks into the oil, press firmly with tongs, and fry until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn them over and cook until browned on the underside, about 4 more minutes. Transfer the chops to a cutting board.

Put a few spoons of mustard on each steak. Drizzle the steaks with honey and let them rest for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
When ready to serve, add the arugula to the beans, if using, and toss well. Slice the steaks and season with paprika. Serve the pork steak on top of or alongside a salad.