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Pintos and Pork Jowl #FoodNFlix

This month Eliot's Eats is hosting this month's edition of #FoodNFlix. Read her invitation: here. She asked us to watch O Brother, Where Art Thou?*

Believe it, or not, I have never watched this movie. Despite it being eighteen years old. Despite all of its accolades, including a soundtrack that was awarded 'Album of the Year'. And despite it being a retelling of one of my favorite books - The Odyssey - I have never seen it. So, I was happy to change that this month.

One evening, I popped in the DVD and all four of us sat down to watch it. Jake had actually seen it before; and both boys have read The Odyssey for school. So, I thought it would be fun and told them to watch out for any food inspiration. Ehhh...

On the Screen

While some will find this movie offbeat and entertaining, I didn't think there was anything remarkable or memorable about it. Surely it does - and will continue to - resonate with some audience members, but I'm not one of them.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is loosely based on Homer's The Odyssey, with George Clooney as Ulysses, (Ulysses Everett McGill), an escaped Mississippi convict on a long journey home to his wife, Penny, played by Holly Hunter. He and fellow escapees played by John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson have run-ins with a blind soothsayer, a trio of sirens, and a Cyclops, played by John Goodman.

The movie offers everything from car chases and shootouts to musical numbers and some magical realism. And, despite its short run time, it still - to me - had a dragged-out feeling with minimal character development. I'm glad I finally saw it, but I don't need to watch it again.

On the Plate
What should we make? I asked the boys, when we finished watching the movie.

"Frog legs!" said one. "You know...for when they thought Pete was turned into a frog, or toad, or whatever that was." Hmmm...I don't have any idea where to get frog legs. But I remembered this photo of Jake from his childhood and decided to share it today. Haha.

There was the pie-stealing scene, but I wasn't sure what kind of pie that was. They stole and cooked a chicken. The cyclops cons them into buying him Chicken Fricassee. And D spied red velvet cake sitting in front of Penny at the church gathering. No lack of food scenes really.

But, then, I did a search for foods from Mississippi, where the movie takes place, thinking that might lend to inspiration. I came across multiple references to pork and beans and I happened to have a four-pound pork jowl in my freezer from one of my favorite local pork purveyors. So, I decided to make my own version of pork and beans using pintos and pork jowl.

Pintos and Pork Jowl 

Ingredients serves 6 to 8
  • 1 lb dried beans (I used pinto beans)
  • 1 apple, cored, peeled, and shredded
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
  • splash of olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 to 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 C ketchup
  • 3 to 4 T hot sauce, optional
  • 3 to 4 pounds pork (I used pork jowl), trimmed of skin and most fat
  • 2 C organic chicken broth
  • 1/2 C organic dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 C vinegar (I used apple cider)
  • 2 C organic chicken broth
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • freshly ground salt, as needed
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed

If you are using dried beans, start by soaking and cooking your beans. Click for a how-to: here. If you are using pre-cooked beans, I think I had about 2 to 3 cups.

In a large soup pot, sweat your onions and shallots in a splash of olive oil until they begin to turn translucent. Stir in the apples and add the beans.

Add all of the other ingredients. Bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 3 hours. Stir every 30 minutes, or so, so that the beans don't burn and stick to the bottom. By the end of 3 hours, the liquid will have reduced and thickened. If you need more liquid during cooking, add more as needed.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, as needed. Shred the pork a bit as you're serving.

I served this in individual bowls with some sauteed kale on the side.

"I didn't see any kale in the movie," declared R. It's a stand-in for Southern collard greens, I explained.

"Then why does it have kimchi in it?" asked D. 

Because I love collards and kimchi a la Chef Edward Lee! Just eat it!

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  1. Sorry you didn't love the film. The dish is inspired and I love the "There's no kale in the film" comment. Kimchi?!?!? I love it ala Edward Lee.

    1. They love to call me on my culinary improv! No, it wasn't my favorite, but I am glad that I can finally cross it off my to-watch list.

  2. Great inspiration! I had no idea it was based on the Odyssey until recently! It sheds a whole new light on the film!

    1. It does...and it doesn't in my mind. Loved the Odyssey. Not too fond of this movie.

  3. Why does it have kimchee in it....leave it to kids LOL. Great dish. Thanks for sharing.


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