Everything You Need To Know About Cooking With Canned Pork and Beans

This dynamic duo in a can isn't just for breakfast.

IMAGE Patrick Martires

Not everyone likes a can of pork and beans. This meat-and-bean combo is a staple in many kitchens but few know more to do with it than opening the can, dumping it into a bowl, and serving it with toasted bread. There have to be more ways to use this can, right?

You're right. There are, but you need to be willing to substitute ingredients to use this versatile can in your recipes. 

Here are ideas on how you can use that can of pork and beans to make your dishes better: 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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1 Add a touch of sweetness to your dish. 

The sauce of the pork and beans, unlike that we have here is quite unique. It's sweet, savory, and no tang at all. It tastes nothing like a tomato sauce should, and that's what makes it a great seasoning ingredient. It's a slightly thickened sauce, too, which is why it can be piled onto your toast without making your bread soggy too quickly. You can use this as an ingredient to dishes where sugar is added to the tomato sauce base. 

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Worried the beans aren't a match for your dish? Scoop up some of that sauce and add it to the dish and save the rest for your breakfast the next morning.   

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2 Make stews even heartier. 

Pork and beans don't have to be the main ingredient in your dish but it an make your dish heartier and more flavorful. Give your dishes a savory-sweet taste while beefing up your stew! These are particularly great when making a tomato-based stew since the pork and bean can naturally blend in well with the rest of the dish. 

In fact, did you know that some afritada recipes use pork and beans in its recipe?     

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3 Mash it and mix it in. 

Potatoes aren't the only ingredients you can mash. Beans are a great substitute for mashed potatoes because it results in a mixture that's just as creamy and luscious as well-made mashed potatoes. If you are ever short on potatoes for your recipe that needs mashed potato, try mashing pork and beans and using that mixture into the potatoes.     

Photo by Patrick Martires
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4 Just add bacon.

One of your concerns when opening a can of pork and beans is probably the lack of meat. Did you know that the pork is really just for flavoring and it's not really meant to be meaty at all? Smoked and dried pork is super flavorful. Think bacon, jamonproscuitto, and guanciale. That's why there's only a chunk of pork or two in your can! 

If you're dismayed with the lack of meat, do as the British do with their full English breakfast plate. Fry some bacon and eggs, char some tomatoes, toast some slices, and add that to your pork and beans portion of your breakfast plate.  

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5 Make a hearty tomato fried rice.

There's a dish in Cuba called black beans and rice and it's a flavorful and interesting rice dish. It's a more complex recipe that you would think! There are bell peppers, black beans or tausi, and rice. This is made aromatic and flavorful with the oregano, ground cumin, and other herbs and spices mixed in. Vinegar is the surprise ingredient in this dish but you can add a touch of sweetness to this dish with a can of pork and beans to temper that sourness.  

You won't ever taste a fried rice recipe like this until you make this!  

There are many other ways you can make pork and beans an ingredient in your recipe. You can add it to a chili con carne recipe, tweak the can to make it into barbecue beans that's perfect served with some ribs, or use it as a great substitute for the beans in your homemade burrito

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