Pears, Beans and Bacon – an adopted version of a perfect autumn and winter comfort meal from Northern Germany. Low-caloric, nutritious and easy to make.
There is only one thing about October which I like: harvest food. October means thick stews, hot teas, pumpkin soups and apple pies. The weather and the proximity of winter, and worst of all – November, make October my second least favorite month of the year (after November). Well, at least we have food to concentrate on. Stews are something you eat for dinner more often in autumn and winter than during the rest of the year. They warm you up after this crazy weather has worn you out, made your nose red and your fingers insensitive. They are a perfect comfort meal in Northern Germany, which is not known for its good weather. There are two recipes I will be sharing with you today. I adopted them from the traditional Northern German recipe, to make them a bit less heavy and add new flavors. You will see two variations of Birnen, Bohnen und Speck or Pears, Beans and Bacon. The name doesn’t say it, but there are potatoes, too. I kept the main ingredients (and substituted bacon), so it still counts as a German dish. I slightly changed the method of cooking and added spices and flavors to it. I put it in a form of stew while traditionally you serve ingredients separately on a plate. I also added dark beer. And that was a good idea to do! The first variation (see the first picture above) is made with beef instead of streaky bacon. It made the stew low-caloric and suitable for picky meat eaters like me (I don’t like bacon fat). In the traditional recipe, you use pears like on the picture, small, very hard and impossible to eat uncooked. It explains why they are added to the dish: you can’t eat them raw. They keep their shape while being cooked for a long time, as they are not juicy at all. But be patient, they become much better when they are cooked! My first variation includes this kind of pears. The full recipe is below:
How to Make Northern German Fall Stew: Pears, Beans and Bacon
My second variation of Pears, Beans and Bacon is faster to make (25 minutes vs. 1 hour), as I used low-fat smoked ham instead of bacon or beef. I made crispy ham chips glazed with honey. You should try them, because they beat every bacon in the world! To make them, coat the ham with a 1:1 mixture of honey and water and put it in the hot oven for about 5 minutes. I prepared pears in a similar way. They take a little longer in the oven but the principle is the same. Check the full recipe below: [recipe 3654] I’m curious about your favorite autumn/winter meals. What do you like to eat when it’s cold and windy outside? Do you know any other German dishes besides sausages and Sauerkraut? 🙂
Traditional Northern German Fall Stew: Pears, Beans and Bacon 2nd Edition
- vegetable oil to fry
- 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- a bunch of scallions, chooped
- 250 grams or 9 oz potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 bay leaf
- pinch aof salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 200 ml or 3/4 cup dark beer with caramelized malt
- 4-6 slices smoked ham
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1-2 medium-sized pears, cut into wedges
- 250 grams or 9 oz French green beans
- chopped fresh parsley, sour cream or crème fraîche for serving + beer!
- Put a skillet or a casserole pan over medium heat. Add a bit of oil and add onion, garlic and scallions (keep a tablespoon of chopped scallions for decoration). Fry for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Preheat the oven to 180 ºC or 355 ºF.
- Add potatoes, bay leaf, beer, salt and pepper. Stir everything together and bring to the boil.
- Cover with the lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, coat pear wedges with a half of a 1:1 honey-water mixture and put them in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Add French green beans to the skillet. Cook for 10 more minutes.
- Coat smoked ham slices with the other half of the 1:1 honey-water mixture and put them in the oven for about 5 minutes.
- Mix pears with potatoes and beans. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Serve with parsley, scallions, smoked honey-glazed ham and a tablespoon of sour cream or crème fraîche. A glass of dark beer will go very well with the stew.