Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Southern Style Butter Beans - Baby Lima Beans

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 Beans

I 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, country-style side dish that southerners love and another one that I can literally make a meal of. On the rare occasions that The Cajun and I get to Cracker Barrel, I usually have a side of butter beans, if they have them, and in fact, my favorite meal there is a vegetable plate. Just add a chunk of cornbread and I'm a pretty happy gal. 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, darn!

If you don't grow them yourself, fresh butterbeans can be found in the summer 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. Love that gadget too!

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 - chicken, vegetable, beef, even ham!

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.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Check These Bean Recipes Out Too Y’all!

Southern Field Peas and Snaps
Old School Ham Bone Beans
Southern Creamy Butter Beans

Posted by on July 26, 2016
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  1. I love butter beans and besides my mother and mother-in-law am the only one in our family that does. But, I cannot find a ham hock to save my life. When I lived in Charlottesville all I could find were "pork hocks", no meat just bone and the butcher's called them ham hocks. Same thing here in the Lynchburg, Va area. So, I make my beans with ham bones or bacon. My mil, who lives in Ohio, used to grow them in her garden and they were great. She is 90+ now so has stopped making a garden. I hope to grow them next year once I build up/enrich this terrible soil.

    1. Just good ole pork hocks are fine. I usually add in extra ham from the freezer anyway.

  2. Might be a dumb question but I'm not seeing in your instructions where you have drained the beans. I love Fordhook beans but never made that much effort in the prep. Is the broth part of your serving?

    1. Hi Thomas! First, there are no dumb questions here, ever. Although I don't think it's that much effort, I do like to season the water with the pork hocks to flavor it first. Then I use that broth to cook the beans. You can continue to let them simmer to reduce the broth further, but no, I do not personally drain the beans from the broth.

    2. Got it that the broth being well worth the effort to simmer the beans in. I favor using the hocks for the simmer broth and then adding country ham chunks at the very last after I've drained the beans. The question was, are you serving the broth as part of the finished presentation?

    3. Hi Thomas! There's not a massive amount of broth left at the end. Remember you're cooking the hocks at a medium boil for 30 minutes and then simmering the beans in what is left another 30 to 45. I don't drain them, but that's a personal preference completely up to you. Unless we have company, we scoop from the pot. If I am transferring them to a serving dish for the table, I do not drain them. Hope that helps!

    4. If you are referring to the photograph above as the finished presentation, I used a slotted spoon to put them in the bowl since I wanted to photograph the beans more so than the broth.

  3. If you are using frozen lima beans be sure to look for Ford Hook Lima's. A tad more expensive but worth every cent extra you have to pay.

  4. I use smoked pork chops and use a skillet. Fry the chops, dump in the frozen beans, add enough water to cover and then let'er simmer. Oh, and lots of pepper.

    1. Yep, that'd be another way to prepare butter beans - thanks Jimmy!

  5. Your recipes are home for me, Mary! Thank you for putting recipes to southern cooking because we all know our grandmothers didn't use one, lol. Now I can recreate the yumminess in my own kitchen!

    1. Leigh Ann, thank you so much for your sweet, sweet comment. I really love the whole process of creating and cooking, so it's a joy to be able to share that!

  6. Hi Mary, I am so delighted to find your website, I came across it by happenstance and am thrilled! I don't eat port and oftentimes use chicken stock as my go to season base; however, can you recommend a beef substitute to flavor beans (love Lima's!) and other similar substances. I would appreciate any assistance you could provide. Thanks much!

  7. Hi Mary, I am so delighted to find your website, I came across it by happenstance and am thrilled! I don't eat port and oftentimes use chicken stock as my go to season base; however, can you recommend a beef substitute to flavor beans (love Lima's!) and other similar substances. I would appreciate any assistance you could provide. Thanks much!

    1. Hi Rhonda! I'm so glad that you found your way here too - welcome!! I'm not sure about beef substitutes, but these and actually many of the dishes that use pork will season well with smoked turkey wings. Just treat them the same way as pork hocks for seasoning! It's a different flavor profile, but it's good!

  8. Mary, Thank you for yet another wonderful recipe. I’ve really come to love butter beans since discovering your recipe last year. I can’t wait for this year’s season. Having worked in a 3 star French bistro on LI, NY, I have all kinds of lima bean recipes floating around in this old burnt out brain. I even have a recipe for French Flageolet Beans up there somewhere. Honestly, however, nothing compares to your simple, delicious and to the point recipes.
    I’m notorious for playing with my food. So naturally, I’ve tweaked this a bit and thought I’d pass it on. I’ve recently discovered that Better Than Bullion has a ham base as well, which I’ve added to this instead of the chicken base. It’s pretty good. And as for the ham, one of my favorite things is diced Kentucky Legend. It’s one of our all-time favorites. Thank you for suggesting that.
    The last few times I’d made the beans as per your recipe (I make only about 1 lb. at a time). However, I finish it off with a little twist. While the beans are coming to a ‘tender crisp’ state of doneness, in a large skillet I cook down 3 slices of diced, thick cut bacon; just until it starts to brown. I drain the beans and then, in the skillet, I add 1 med. finely diced shallot and let that cook for about 30 seconds, keeping everything moving all the time. I then add the drained beans and to the skillet and either keep flipping the skillet or working the mixture with a spatula for about a minute or so; just to finish it off. At the end, I dump the whole thing into a strainer, with a catch bowl underneath to catch the bacon grease. I then put the beans into a serving bowl and toss before serving. I find that if the beans aren’t drained of the grease, they’ll be sitting in a grease puddle before long. That’s not appetizing. This seems to be an absolute hit with everybody that I’ve served it to.
    Thanks again for a wonderful recipe. Have a great day. God bless.

    1. Bacon makes everything better, right? I use BTB ham base too! I keep several on hand so if I have it opened, that's what I use, but I more often have the chicken already opened in the fridge. I adore the KL hams - they are really that good!!


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