Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Old Fashioned Slow Stewed Southern Style Green Beans

Fresh green beans, slow stewed in the Southern way with cubed or sliced fatback, salt pork or bacon and shown here with potatoes.
Fresh green beans, slow stewed in the Southern way with cubed or sliced fatback, salt pork or bacon and shown here with potatoes.

Old Fashioned Slow Stewed Southern Green Beans

I make my green beans the same way most of the time - a little bacon, a little onion and a little chicken broth or water. Sometimes, new potatoes are added. Doesn't matter whether the beans are fresh, frozen or canned - I use the same method for them all, and each of those elements add so much depth and flavor to green beans. I love them.

But when I have the time, this is the way that I love them the most. Fresh green beans, snapped and cooked in the old fashioned way - a low and slow simmer in water, with a little fatback or salt pork and pepper is all there is to it. Once they are done, I like to stir in a tablespoon of bacon fat or butter to add just a little extra richness. Taste them first, then add other seasonings as you like.

Some folks think these are "stewed to death" green beans because of the long cooking time, since fresh green beans literally cook in a very short time really. The key is slow "stewing," not boiling. You only want a very low bubble on them that allows them to barely simmer for a long time - at least an hour, an hour and a half, even better. It's an old fashioned and delicious way to enjoy fresh green beans and is truly southern style.

Fresh green beans, slow stewed in the Southern way with cubed or sliced salt pork or fatback. Served here with my Ground Beef Mac and Cheese and Next Day Salad.

Do use fatback or salt pork for this method if you have access to it, because it makes a huge difference in the flavor, and well... that is the old way and while bacon or a ham hock will work, it's just not quite the same taste at all. You can cook up a little bacon to garnish the top of the beans if you like though. Bacon is always a nice addition to green beans! I promise though, if you grew up with slow stewed Southern green beans, the aroma of these cooking down with fatback or salt pork, will bring you right back to your grandmother's kitchen.

Make them ahead whenever you can and let them set up in the fridge to soak in the pot juices. The flavor really develops and they are most excellent the next day. Always serve these beans with lots of cornbread.

Here's how to make them, and it really couldn't be easier.

Rinse, trim and snap fresh green beans in half or thirds. Please do not substitute canned or frozen green beans for this recipe, only very fresh beans will do here.

Place into a large saucepan with fatback and plenty of pepper; bring to a boil. I mostly use a block of salt pork cubed, but had to use sliced salt pork this time, because when I made a trip to the market, that's all they had at the store. That's okay - works fine!

Reduce to a very low simmer, cover and let barely simmer for 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remember, the key here is simmer and not an extended boil.

Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt only as needed, and any other seasonings you enjoy. Stir in the butter or bacon fat. Now, if you've made these ahead of time, all the more better! When these beans sit over night in their stewed juices, they are even more marvelous than when you made them the day before.

I would agree that these are a bit nondescript in their appearance, but oh my heavens the flavor. Out of this world. Do try them this summer when green beans are fresh and at their peak!

Check out more of my green beans recipes on Pinterest!

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Recipe: Old Fashioned Slow Stewed Southern Green Beans

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1 hour 30 min

Total time: 1 hour 40 min
Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 2 pounds fresh green snap or pole beans, Kentucky runners or half runners if possible
  • 4-1/2 cups of water
  • 5 ounces of fatback, salt pork (rinsed) or bacon, cubed, sliced or quartered
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or to taste, optional
  • 6 to 8 tiny new potatoes or small red potatoes, cut into chunks, optional
  • Salt, at the end, only as needed, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of butter or bacon fat, to finish, optional

Rinse, trim and snap green beans in half or thirds. Place into a large saucepan with water, fatback and pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce to a very low simmer, cover and let barely simmer for 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours. If adding potatoes, scrub the potatoes and peel a strip away from the middle of each potato and add to the pot about 20 to 25 minutes before they are finished; cover and continue cooking until tender. Taste and adjust beans for seasonings, adding salt only as needed. Finish by stirring in the butter or bacon fat.

Cook's Notes: Remember, these beans are slow stewed, not boiled. They need to remain on a very bare simmer the entire cooking time - do not let them boil. Use fresh, raw green beans only, not frozen or canned. Do not substitute. Ham hocks or bacon are a suitable stand-in if you must, but the taste is not at all the same, although chopped, cooked bacon is a nice garnish.

For the Slow Cooker: Prepare as above placing in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 4-6 hours.

Instant Pot/Electronic Pressure Cooker: While the flavor is not as intense as slow stewed, these are still delicious. Add beans and potatoes, if using, to pressure cooker with 1-1/2 cups chicken broth, pork seasoning and black pepper; seal and pressure cook on high for 4 minutes. Quick release.


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