|A summertime Southern favorite, fresh speckled butter beans are stewed down with a ham hock enhanced broth.|
Southern Style Speckled Butter BeansSomewhere in the dark recesses of my deep freeze, I have some ham hocks. But... The Cajun handled the transportation of our freezer from the old house to the new, along with the contents of it, all scattered about in massive coolers, and frankly, I just crammed it all back in there with no manner of organization once it arrived.
Needless to say, I now can't find a thing.
Nor can I fit a thing else into it either, so I used some smoked pork necks that fell out, along with some ham chunks that also fell out, when I opened the door. Hey... works for me!
If your ham hock isn't very meaty, as I often suggest, add in some minced, smoked ham. I also find that speckled butter beans benefit from bacon drippings for flavor, so I like to stir some in at the end, along with a little butter. You do keep a pot or jar of bacon drippings in your fridge, right? No worries, if not. Just fry up a couple or three slices and use them in your beans!
Here's how I make a pot of speckled butter beans.
Slash ham hock with a knife and place in a pot; add water. May substitute other smoked pork also, including bacon, or use salt pork or fatback if you prefer. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Rinse the beans, pick through for any debris if they are fresh, and add to the pot. Bring back up to a boil, stir, reduce heat to a very low simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes. I would love to tell you that I grew these myself but I didn't. I picked these up at the Biloxi Farmer's Market, already shelled and ready to cook.
Remove the ham hock and pull any meat off; return meat to pot and discard bone. Add in additional chopped, smoked ham.
Stir in the bacon fat or butter (I like to use a little of both) and half and half, if using. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking, uncovered, about 10 to 15 minutes, or until beans reach the texture desired.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove from heat, cover and let rest in the juices for at least 10 minutes, or until ready to serve. Even better the next day.
Here in the Deep South you are very likely to find butter beans, Southern peas and other beans served with rice. That's just the way we do it down here. Don't be surprised if you see a chunk of spicy andouille added too!
|Speckled butter beans served Deep South style - with chunks of andouille smoked sausage and steamed rice, alongside some cornbread and some greens with pickled onions.|
Recipe: Southern Style Speckled Butter Beans©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 1 hour | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 1 meaty smoked ham hock or other smoked meat
- 1 quart of water
- 1 pound of fresh or frozen speckled butter beans or baby limas (about 4 cups)
- 1/4 cup of minced, smoked ham
- 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings
- 1 tablespoon of half and half, optional
- 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon of Creole or Cajun seasoning, or to taste, optional
Slash ham hock with a knife and place in a pot; add water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Rinse fresh beans and sort through for any stems or other debris. Add the beans, bring back up to a boil, stir, reduce heat to a very low simmer, cover and cook for 40 minutes.
Remove the ham hock and pull any meat off; return meat to pot and discard bone. Add in minced, smoked ham. Stir in the bacon fat or butter, half and half, salt and pepper, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking, uncovered, about 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until beans reach the texture desired. Taste and adjust seasonings. Cover and let rest 10 minutes in the juices. Even better the next day.
Cook's Notes: This recipe provides a decent amount of pot likker. If you prefer them drier, reduce the water to just cover the beans, plus another inch, but keep an eye not to let the pot go completely dry. At the end, stir in the bacon drippings or butter and half and half and serve.
Instead of a ham hock, may use other smoked pork, or salt pork or fatback, but also add in the 1/4 cup of chopped, smoked ham. I sometimes add a good, browned, smoked andouille sausage - it is the Deep South after all. If you have made the boiled pulled pork recipe, this is a great place to use the broth left from that in place of plain water. May also substitute chicken stock or broth for the water.
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©Deep South Dish
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