|Fresh butterbeans, or frozen, baby lima beans, slow simmered in a ham hock seasoned broth with onion, chicken base, salt and pepper, and finished with a nob of butter or bacon drippings - a definite summertime southern favorite.|
Southern Style Butterbeans - Baby Lima BeansI love butterbeans - big and small - and I don't understand for the life of me, why some southerners get all up in a tizzy about what is a butter bean, any more than what constitutes a "real" cornbread or whether a hoecake is flour or cornmeal based. The internet has opened the south to all southerners and revealed that despite what we thought growing up, there is no one south. Truth is, how you cook in the south and what you call things in the south, depends on what part of the south you grew up in and how your mama did it, which is more likely than not to be different from how somebody else's mama did. Folks in south Mississippi cook differently than folks in north Alabama and folks in Louisiana cook differently than folks in Georgia. It's just food y'all, it's all good, so how about let's just eat and stop with the arguing about what we think is right?
These are another very simple side dish that southerners love and another one that I can literally make a meal of. Just add a chunk of cornbread and I'm pretty happy! These are one side dish that I have to share though, since it's one of the few that the veggie opposed Cajun in my household will also eat.
If you don't grow them yourself, fresh butterbeans can be found at your local vegetable stands and Farmer's markets, already shelled, or in the pod. I know however, that in reality, most of the readers here aren't going to by them in the pod, and, while convenient, fresh beans sell at a premium shelled. In truth, most of us are going to pick up frozen baby lima beans from the freezer section of our favorite grocery market and that is perfectly okay. Preparation is the same, and much like other beans and southern peas.
You can use many different forms of seasoning meats for our southern peas and beans, such as salt pork, country ham, meaty ham bones and ham hocks, and often simply bacon, but for these I like to use ham hocks. I first season the water with the hocks and let that go for a bit, then prepare the beans with a tender simmer along with the ham hocks in that seasoned water, pulling the meat off of the hock at the end.
Please do not boil your beans to death or they will be overcooked, tasteless and have an off-putting pale and greyish tint to them. Some ham hocks are very slim on the trimmings, so be sure to look for fairly meaty hocks for that very reason, or add in a little bit of side ham.
Here's another one of my favorite kitchen gadgets. For this recipe I only want a little bit of onion for flavor, so this chopper is perfect for that. I find myself reaching for it pretty often. You've still got to prep the onion of course, meaning you have to peel it and then cut it into quarters. I only use one quarter usually for these smaller things, depending on the size of the onion, so the rest go in a FoodSaver bag.
This chopper has 3 multilevel blades and a hand pull - the more you pull, the more fine the chop. I use it for chopping small amounts of onion, bell pepper, celery, tomatoes, garlic, boiled eggs, olives, chicken, ham, nuts, all kinds of things you would normally have to hand chop with a knife. Easy to use and clean too - just a quick rinse and a little soapy water.
I like to also add a bit of chicken base with the beans to the bean water for a boost of flavor and y'all know that when I don't need a whole quart of chicken broth, Better than Bouillon is my favorite. You'll always find several in my fridge.
For more of my recipes using southern peas and beans check out my page on Pinterest!
If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!
Recipe: Southern Style Butterbeans - Baby Lima Beans©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 1 hour | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 2 meaty smoked ham hocks
- 2 quarts water
- 2 pounds freshly shelled butter beans or frozen, thawed green Fordhook baby lima beans (about 6 cups)
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon or base (like Better than Bouillon)
- 1/4 cup finely minced onion
- Pinch sugar
- 1/4 cup country ham or baked ham, torn or chopped, optional
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon of butter or bacon fat, to finish, optional
Fill pot with water and add ham hocks. Bring to a boil, reduce to a medium boil and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Reserve water, skimming off any accumulated foam. Add beans, chicken base/bouillon, onion, sugar and additional ham, bringing water back up to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer and cook, partially covered for 30 to 45 minutes, or longer, until beans are tender and creamy. Remove hock, pick off any meat and add to pot, along with butter or bacon fat. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed.
Cook's Notes: Substitute homemade or commercial chicken broth for the water and base, if desired.
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©Deep South Dish
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