Thursday, December 10, 2009

Southern Creamy Butter Beans (Large Lima Beans)

Large lima beans, or butter beans as we refer to them in my part of the Deep South, have a lovely creamy texture, and with this mix of seasonings, are just pure comfort food.
Large lima beans, or butter beans as we refer to them in my part of the Deep South, have a lovely creamy texture, and with this mix of seasonings, are just pure comfort food.

Creamy Butter Beans

Good old-fashioned, creamy butter beans, are a southern favorite for sure! Not to be too confusing, Southerners refer to both large and small lima beans as butterbeans, although there is also butter peas to consider, a smaller pea-shaped cousin, and a pea that is actually a bean and not a pea, akin to other Southern peas, such as lady cream and zipper, and that some Southerners also call butter beans ... but not to be confused with buttered peas which is a whole 'nother thing - just to confuse the rest of the world, as we Southerners love to do.

Whew! You just gotta love The South.

Pictsweet Butter Peas

Here, I'm referring to the larger lima beans, and that is what I call butter beans, because I call the tiny green baby lima beans, well... baby lima beans or small butter beans. I typically use Camellia brand dried beans. They have a lovely creamy texture, and with this mix of seasonings, are just pure comfort food, especially on a cold day.

Camellia Brand Large Lima Beans - my butter bean! See? It's right there on the package y'all - Large Butter Beans.

Like potatoes, beans are a popular meal down south because they are inexpensive - you can read that as cheap frugal for us southerners and we'll happily agree. They are filling, and belly warming on cold days, though we'll also be happy to eat them just about any time of the year. Once you get them on the stove, they don't require a lot of tending to either. Besides that, they are just downright good!

I really love baking a huge bone-in ham because it means that you get to put away that bone and some extra ham just especially for some for beans or a soup on down the line, but don't fret. You can buy some pretty awesome ham bones by the pound from your local specialty ham stores too. Serve these beans as a main dish, or as a side dish, but generally speaking, always with a side of cast iron skillet cornbread!

For more of my favorite bean recipes, pop by my Pinterest page!

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Recipe: Southern Creamy Butter Beans (Large Lima Beans)

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

  • 1 pound bag of Camellia brand large lima beans
  • Water to cover plus an inch
  • 1 tablespoon of bacon fat, butter or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup of chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup of chopped carrot
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper grinder
  • 2 cups of leftover baked, smoked ham, roughly chopped
  • Meaty ham bone, 2 or 3 ham hocks or smoked turkey wings
  • 1 (32-ounce) carton of chicken stock
  • 4-6 cups of water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter, optional
  • 2 tablespoons of dried parsley
  • Pinch of Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama)
  • Couple pinches of kosher salt, or to taste

Rinse and sort beans, place into stockpot with just enough water to cover them, plus about an inch. Bring to a boil, cover and turn off the burner. Let soak covered for one hour, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the bacon fat over medium; add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and sauté just until tender. Add the thyme and pepper and stir; add the ham, ham bone, ham hocks or smoked turkey wings, chicken stock, 4 cups of the water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and let simmer for about 1 hour.

Add the drained beans to the pot. Stir in the butter, parsley, and a pinch of Cajun seasoning. Continue cooking on a low simmer an additional hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until beans are tender and sauce thickens. Add additional chicken stock or water only if needed. When beans are tender, taste and adjust seasonings as desired; cover and hold on very low.

Serve over hot cooked rice with a side of cast iron skillet cornbread.

Cook's Notes: May also simply soak beans in cool water overnight. Older beans take longer to cook so if your beans have been in the pantry for awhile, you may have to cook them longer. Fresh beans cook more quickly. You can substitute bacon if you don't have any leftover ham. Just chop up as much bacon as you want - about a half pound would be good - and saute that in a pan until browned, then toss in the chopped onion, celery, carrots, and garlic right there in with that bacon and bacon fat and cook until tender, adding olive oil only if needed to saute the veggies. Pick up the rest of the recipe from there. For tips on ways to thicken beans, click here.

Crockpot: Rinse, drain and sort through beans. Add the unsoaked beans to a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Saute veggies and meats and add with all of the remaining ingredients except butter, parsley, Cajun seasoning and rice. Cover the beans with 5 to 7 cups of very hot water, or use a combination of water and broth if desired - you’ll need more or less depending on whether you’ve soaked your beans and whether you are using a large ham bone. You want to cover the beans by about an inch or so. Cover and cook on high for 7 to 8 hours, 10 to 12 hours on low, or until the beans are tender. Before serving, stir in butter, parsley, Cajun seasoning and salt; taste and adjust seasonings as needed.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on December 10, 2009
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