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: