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Bean Puree with Smoked Pork

Bohnenpueree mit KasselerIt's amazing how different preparation methods can change the flavor of a food, not only with the spices and other ingredients used but with the overall texture. Green beans are usually boiled, seasoned with bacon, or used in soup or salads. But we tried making a puree with green beans, and it tasted fantastic - not heavy or earthy like you might expect, but light and fresh. Green beans are very good for a low-carb diet. They actually contain a high percentage of carbohydrates, but most of these carbs aren't used by the human body. They also have lots of essential protein and large quantities of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron, as well as vitamins B2, B6, C, E, provitamin A (beta carotene), and folic acid. (Source: Wikipedia)

To accompany the puree, we braised onions (the onions should not be pureed!) and roasted pork chops. The type of smoked pork we use is known as "Kassler" in German, after a butcher from Berlin who developed it. This hearty, spicy meat is an excellent accompaniment for our bean puree.

Bean Puree with Smoked Pork (to serve 4)

1 kg (2 lbs)green string beans
1 bunchsavory
1 dspsalt
200 ml (1 cup)cream
4onions
4smoked pork chops

Chili powder, salt, pepper, oil for frying

Wash the beans and snap them at both ends, then cut them into 2-cm snippets. These are boiled in salt water with savory. (Our greengrocer always gives us a bunch of fresh savory when we buy beans.) The savory adds its flavor to the beans by cooking with them; it should be removed and discarded afterwards. The beans should start to become tender after cooking for about 20 minutes. Drain them and puree them with 1 cup cream. Then season them with salt and pepper, and they're done. The pork chops can also be prepared quickly. If you're using seasoned smoked pork, you hardly need to add any more seasoning. Just brown each chop over medium heat for 3-5 minutes and they'll be ready. When buying them, make sure that they're not too lean - the fat will break down while cooking, making the meat juicy and tender. After frying the pork, add the onions to the pan (without washing the pan first). I halve the onions and then slice them, creating nice half-rings. You can fry the onions over high heat as long as you stay by the stove to monitor them. It's important to stir them constantly and catch the exact moment when they turn crispy. 20 seconds longer and they'll burn!

At first it sounds like a hearty country meal, but it's really a fine delicacy. If you have a good butcher and the meat isn't cooked too long or with too much heat (making it dry) the pork will be as tender and soft as butter. And the bean puree tantalizes the tongue like tender young vegetables. The onions, cooked until perfectly crisp, give the meal an extra kick.

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