Friday, November 4, 2016

Country Green Beans with Ham and Potatoes

Country Green Beans with Ham and Potatoes - Green beans, slow stewed in a ham broth, with chunks of torn ham or tasso and potatoes, and served with a flavorful pot likker.

Country Green Beans with Ham and Potatoes

If I had to pick only one vegetable I could eat for the rest of my life, it'd sure be hard.

While The Cajun's veggie list is very limited, I pretty much love them all. Just take a look at the cover of my cookbook and you'll see one of my favorite meals ever!

Yep, I'm a veggie plate gal and I can make a meal out of just about any vegetable pairing. Well... actually that cover shot was my supper that day!

Deep South Dish Cookbook, available at your favorite local bookstore, or online at Amazon!

There is one exception however. Brussel sprouts.

I keep trying to love those in the interest of being a recipe developer and food blogger, but I just can't seem to get there. They're just, well... okay, and out of all of the ways to fix them, the creamed version were my favorite, though I've tried them many ways. They just don't get my taste buds too excited!

I reckon it'd be hard on me not to have some of the other vegetables, but green beans is the one I'd pick.

We eat them a lot - fresh being my top choice - but heck I can dress up a can of green beans pretty good too for a quick weeknight meal, and frozen, though not my favorite, work in a pinch.

The best green beans are right off the vine, right from your own backyard, right in the heat of summer, but it seems the vast majority of us don't do much veggie gardening these days. We just don't have the time. One of our Deep South Dish family, Nancy, well I am totally in awe of her because she practically has a farm, and I get so envious when she shares on our Facebook page about all of the fresh produce she is putting up from her gardens.

Well, although I keep a tiny, little garden every year, I'm awfully grateful fresh green beans can now be found pretty much year-round in the grocery market, and green beans are one vegetable that don't seem to suffer the travel they sometimes have to make.

My favorite way to eat fresh green beans, hands-down, are the southern-style, "cooked to death," slow stewed version - though I don't actually boil mine to that awful grayish hue of death. A nice slow stew for me, and that's about the best green bean you can put in your mouth y'all! Just set the pot right in front of me and I'm a happy gal.

Next to that would be the quick-fix version, and that's the one that I prepare the most, when I'm not going with the shortcut ones from a can, but I love green beans so many ways - slow stewed, quick fix, bacon wrapped in bundles, as a cold salad, pickled cold, in some southern peas, served in a hot sweet and sour bacon fat vinaigrette, in a skillet meal, and, of course, in a casserole.

Pork, in some form, usually plays into the flavor profile for my green beans.

My slow-stewed beans are flavored with fat back or salt pork.

The quick-fix version uses bacon.

For this country-style version, it's all about the ham.

I cook hams all through the year, not just on holidays, so I'll use a ham bone when I have a few of them in the freezer. Otherwise, it's more commonly pork hocks, and I prefer to give them a little head start when I have time, though these beans are good too when you just throw it all together at once.

First, we're gonna develop a little flavor for the base, so we start with filling a pot with water and add ham bone or hocks. Bring to a boil, reduce to a medium boil and cook for 30 minutes. Reserve water, skimming off any accumulated foam.

Rinse, trim and snap green beans in half or thirds. Add to pot, along with chicken base (like Better than Bouillon) for some additional flavor.

Add some pepper and chopped onion and bring to a boil. Reduce to a very low simmer, and cook, uncovered for 1 hour.

Remove the ham bone or pork hocks and set aside, once cool enough to handle, pull any meat off and add to pot. If your ham bone or hock is good and meaty, you likely won't need to add in any extra ham, but if it isn't, you'll definitely want to add some additional chopped country ham, tasso, or smoked ham to the beans. Any time I bake a ham, I put up a few chunks in a vacuum sealed bag just for things like this.

Add potatoes and continue cooking until tender, about 25 minutes. I have red potatoes on hand much more often than russets, so I add them unpeeled, while russets I peel. Taste, add Cajun seasoning and taste again, adjusting for salt and pepper.

Finish by stirring in a pat of butter or bacon fat, if desired, and transfer with some of the pot likker to a serving bowl.

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