Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Old School Ham Bone Beans

Somewhere between a soup and stew, all thick and creamy and soothing, this full bodied and flavorful pot of white beans is all due to the ham bone.

Ham Bone Beans

I don't know about the rest of y'all but I sure have had a difficult time getting back into the swing this week. I've been busy enough writing new recipes and even cooking, but it's the post writing part that has me pulling off my best procrastination act this week. For instance, I fully intended to have this recipe up on Monday... and here it is already Wednesday. I had it mostly done, I just kept putting off finishing the final cut and the coding that goes with all this website business.

Anyway, I do hope that you have a nice, meaty ham bone and some chunks of ham frozen  from your holiday meal leftovers, just waiting for a great recipe to show up, because these beans are a fantastic way to use them. Soon as I carved up my holiday ham, the bone went directly into the freezer along with 2 big sections of ham, just perfect for beans. I sure love making a pot of beans from a good ham bone on those days when there's a chill in the air.

These beans fall somewhere between a soup and a stew really, all thick and creamy and soothing, like a pot of ham bone beans ought to be. Seriously, this is the absolute best pot of beans and it's got little to do with my skills in the kitchen. The ham bone really is the star.

While slow cookers are great for cooking all sorts of soups, stews and beans, I still love a dish that is slow-stewed, old school style right on the stovetop, something akin to what Grandma might have made, long before such modern conveniences, and store-bought, boxed broths and other nice and handy shortcuts we have available to us today. While I do enjoy those modern conveniences, I kinda like it the old school way of slowly building layers of flavors too. Y'all kinda already knew that about me though, didn't you?

Using the ham bone to create a flavorful stock first, is one of those layers. The addition of a small roux at the end, made using bacon drippings, is yet another. While you can certainly thicken these one pot meals with a bit of a cornstarch slurry added toward the end of a recipe, I've taken to doing a small roux with many of my soups and stews now, and, besides the creaminess I adore, it really does add another bump of flavor to the dish.

Yes, the old school way of making ham bone beans is a process that takes time, and a dish for modern days that is best reduced to weekend cooking for many of us I suppose, but the flavor pay-off is so worth the effort and time, provided you don't try to shortcut it. I hope you put this on your list to try one upcoming chilly weekend.

Here's how to make it.

Recipe: Old School Ham Bone Beans

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 1 hour |Cook time: 2 hours | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

For the Ham Stock:
  • 1 large meaty hambone
  • Water to cover, plus two inches
  • 2 whole celery stalks (ribs) with leaves, rinsed and cut into large chunks
  • 2 large carrots, unpeeled, rinsed and cut into large chunks
  • 1 large onion, unpeeled and quartered
  • 4 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of whole peppercorns
For the Beans:
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon fat or oil
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup of chopped celery
  • 1 carrot, scraped and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 1 pound package of dried lima beans or white beans (Great Northern or Navy), soaked overnight
  • 2 slices of thick cut bacon, cooked and drippings reserved
  • 2 cups leftover cooked ham, chopped
  • 1 cup of frozen corn, optional
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • 1 cup of reserved stock
Instructions

Soak beans overnight to speed the cooking process. Place ham bone in a large stockpot, along with the remaining stock ingredients, cover with water plus another 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Strain, reserving the bone and stock; discard vegetables. Once cooled, pick off any meat from the bone, reserving the meat and discarding the bone. Set aside 1 cup of the stock.

Heat the oil in the bottom of the pot and add the chopped onion, celery and carrot; cook over medium until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook another minute. Rinse and sort through the beans, add to the pot, along with the reserved, strained stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a separate small skillet, cook the bacon until lightly crisped, remove and chop, reserving the bacon drippings. Add the bacon, ham and corn, if using, to the beans; simmer for 30 minutes longer.

Warm the bacon drippings, stir in the flour and cook until lightly browned. Stir in the reserved cup of stock a little at a time to make a gravy and bring to a boil; cook and stir until smooth. Transfer the gravy to the bean pot, stir in, add the salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning, and continue on a simmer, another 30 minutes, or until beans are fully tender. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve as is, or over hot, cooked rice.

Cook's Notes: Can substitute 2 to 3 ham hocks for the ham bone. Okay to use frozen, drained, canned corn, or fresh corn that has been cooked, or omit. To make this into a soup, increase the water in the stock to cover the stock ingredients by double.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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48 comments:

  1. I have to give your recipe to an American friend who lives here in Italy ...she cooked a wonderful roasted ham for Thanksgiving....xoxoxo ciao Flavia

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  2. Mary - This pot of beans sounds outstanding and is a must try as soon as we get a bone. I love the name you gave them, but being old school and in the South, you may want to replace "discarding the bone" with "toss the bone to the hound(s)." :-)

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    1. LOL Larry, last time I said that about a ham bone, I got scolded about it!!

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  3. We are on the same wavelength --- I cooked pinto beans (soup beans as we call them in Kentucky) with my Thanksgiving hambone. We were pretty tired of leftovers and our supper of beans and cornbread was delicious.

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    1. I'm with you on that Rhonda!! We all look so forward to that meal, but after a few days of leftovers it's time to move on! I usually crave veggies, salads and BEEF after those holiday meals.

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  4. Sadly no ham bone at my house:( But Food City almost always has ham hocks and they are just as good!

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    Replies
    1. I was wondering if you could use a ham hock, smoked ham hocks ok???

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  5. Hi Mary, love ham & beans..everything looks so good... I posted about your famous pancake recipe today.. at my 2nd blog..My Fanciful Farm, I've made them several times and am never disapointed they are light & fluffy..as advertised..
    thanks Mary for sharing.. Merry Christmas....:)

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  6. Do I read the recipe correctly? you only use 1 cup of broth to cook the beans???

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    Replies
    1. Hi Dee! No, you'll definitely have more broth than a cup!!

      In the first part of the recipe you are using the ham bone & vegetables to make a ham stock that you'll be using for the soup. Once that cooks, you'll strain out the veggies, BUT you need to reserve all that liquid to use for the soup, setting aside 1 cup to use at the end for the roux thickener to make them beans creamy.

      Pick off any meat from the bone after it cooks to add back to the soup also.

      Hope that helps!

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  7. I have found that pressure cooking a ham bone or ham shanks intensifies the flavor of the broth for the soup. And I love what that does to the skin of the ham hocks (which I set aside for myself) :-)

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    1. I'll have to give that a try! Can you tell me more about what you do, what liquid, how much and with what type of pressure cooker? I only have a newer electronic one but would love to give it a try.

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  8. Hi Mary (missed ya), I was wondering if you could make this in a crock pot?
    ~ Deanna

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    1. Hey stranger!! Hope you're doing well. I haven't experimented yet but sure! The results aren't ever quite the same for me with the crockpot & you won't be doing the separate stock so the flavor will be a little different but I'd just dump in all in and go from there. With the crockpot I'd probably go with 6 cups of water.

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    2. That was my exact question! I have a smoked ham bone from Mobile in the freezer; if we dump it in a large slow cooker as above, low/high and for how many hours, Mary?? Thanks! MJ

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    3. I would say 5 to 6 hours on high, or 8 to 9 on low would probably do it. Just check it and see if it needs to go longer at the end since I haven't run this one through the CP test yet! Taste & adjust the seasonings there at the end too.

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    4. Oh & you should still do the roux towards the end for thickening too. The CP just doesn't thicken the same as stovetop to me so it will be especially handy for the CP version.

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  9. So MJ is going to experiment and hope this isn't a fail. Plan to cook the ham bone alone in the slow cooker and add black eye peas later, along w/the other ingredients. What do you think, Mary?

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  10. Hi Mary! Planning on letting the ham bone get a head start in the slow cooker, and will add black-eyed peas and let it go low and slow all day. Just trying to decide whether or not to presoak the BEP tonight?

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    Replies
    1. You could but I really don't think it will need the pre-soak, unless you want them ready faster that is!

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  11. I like to pull out some of the beans and broth and blend them up in a blender. Add it back into the pot and it helps to thicken up the whole tihng.

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  12. I like to run a couple of cups of the beans and broth through the blender. Add it back into the pot to help thicken it up.

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  13. If I don't have a ham bone, can I use a smoked ham hock? and/or a slice of smoked ham steak? Also, a general question? what kind of pork can I use for pulled pork sandwiches to cook in crock-pot? Thank you...Love all recipes...

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    1. Hi Renee & thanks so much!! You sure can - smoked ham hocks work perfectly fine here. Try to find one large one or two to three smaller ones that are pretty meaty. On the pulled pork, I like to use a pork butt or shoulder but you can even use a fresh pork picnic ham - that is a raw uncooked pork ham, not the kind that is fully cooked & smoked. I have several pulled pork recipes on here - just type pulled pork in that search box at the very upper right hand side of the page!

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  14. Wow this made a lot, does it freeze well?

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    1. Hi Lee! Most of my recipes are written for a family :) but yes, beans freeze very nicely! You'll find them a nice treat when you pull a freezer bag out one day.

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  15. I made this over a week ago and my husband loved it. He had the leftovers for lunch almost every day. I am now making my second batch at his request, thanks!!

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    1. I'm so glad he enjoyed them Lynnie & thanks so much for letting me know!

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  16. Hi Mary, I had a rather large ham bone and used the opportunity to make allot of stock. I think I have too much for 1lb. of beans. How much should I use for the beans aside from the cup for the gravy? Thanks!

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    1. Hi Geoff! Just use enough of the ham stock to cover the amount of beans that you have, plus another 1 to 2 inches, just like you did when you made the stock, reserving that one cup separate for the gravy. Then let them slowly stew down. Freeze any leftover stock you don't use!!

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  17. Hi! Plan on making the beans tomorrow. Should I soak the dry beans overnight?

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    1. Hey Kathy! Sorry I missed your message - been feeling under the weather... I've done it both ways & while the age of the beans matters, with the smaller white beans I don't find that it makes much difference. If you use this recipe on a larger bean such as large limas, I would recommend a soak or quick boil method, just to speed up the cooking process.

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    2. Thanks for addressing this.I was hoping someone would comment on this. As I was reading through the instructions, the lack of soak (or not soak) stood out to me, so much that I went back to the beginning to see if I missed it or if the list of ingredients called for "pre-soaked" beans.
      In my experience, I always soak beans. I have never been able to cook beans correctly without a pre-soak. I don't know the "age" of the bean or how to tell for that matter. Even with smaller beans, I've had issues. So, soaking it up here in Florida to make sure our beans are nice and tasty.

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  18. I made this recipe in my crockpot. I put the beans & everything in at 11pm & let it cook on low all night using a ham bone from a 13 pound spiral cut ham we ate at Thanksgiving. I turned off the cp after about nine hours. The beans came out tasting really good with a rich tasting stock. Only thing is I think I put in too much water (I have a large crockpot). I removed 4 cups of stock & placed it in the freezer for future use.

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    1. You're making me hungry with that description Tricia!!

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  19. I made this last weekend. The little northern beans still were not cooked through after 4 hours so next time I'll soak them over night. But I have to tell you this was even better the next day. Well worth the effort, thank you!

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    1. Wow, that's unusual in my experience but I'm glad you didn't give up on them!!

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  20. I made a pot of this soup this weekend and it was out of this world delicious!! Since I planned on canning the leftovers, I skipped thickening with a roux and smashed some of the beans instead to help thicken it and that worked out beautifully. Thank you for sharing your yummy recipe! :)

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    1. You're welcome Michelle! This is one of my favorite recipes. Thanks for coming back by to comment - I appreciate that!

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  21. Great minds think alike! Although it's 70ish degrees in north Mississippi today, this is just what we had for lunch. I used Luck's canned mixed beans (pintos and great northern) that are preseasoned and cooked with pork and had it ready in no time. It was a good excuse to make cornbread too.

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    1. It's 76 here today! Though I am not crazy about freezing weather, I'd sure like it if it was just a tad bit cooler myself. Hard to get into the Christmas spirit in this weather!

      I really do love the Luck's brand beans - I'm a fan of canned beans anyway, but Luck's are nicely seasoned. Walmart carries them here.

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  22. These sound so good...wish I had them right now!! Pinned to try one day!

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