Friday, June 27, 2008

Country Cookin'

I like ham-n-beans. It is comfort food for me. We usually serve it with hot cornbread, dripping with butter and some honey, home-fried potatoes and onions, some pickled peppers (we drizzle a little of the vinegar in the beans) and perhaps a piece of sharp cheddar cheese. A big glass of milk or sweet tea - now you're eatin' country style! Maybe some greens in there as well? A real stick-to-your ribs meal.

Some folks put ketchup on their beans . . . or mayonnaise. However you want to eat them, beans are a great source of fiber. We usually soak ours all night and simmer them slow the next day. As for myself, I prefer navy beas. My oldest brother likes Pintos. My Dad likes Great Northern. The rest of the family I really don't know that they have a preference. We found a great buy on some Anasazi beans the other day and they are really good.

Ham-n-Beans

1 pound dried beans (about 2 cups)
Carrot
Onion
Celery
Garlic
Ham hocks

The night before cooking them, before you go to bed, wash and sort your beans. (Sometimes you find small rocks.) Put them in a big pot with water to cover them and let them soak. The next morning they will have swelled some. Pour any water off and cover them with fresh water. (Water amount is your preference, we use at least a quart, maybe 2) Throw in some diced carrot, celery and onion - how much is up to you. I usually use 1 carrot, 2 stalks of celery and at least 1/2 of a medium sized onion. Throw in a couple of cloves of garlic, minced. Let this simmer over a low heat.

Now for the ham hocks. You can use a ham bone from a baked ham the same, or if you are crunched for time, used some diced ham. What we do is cook the hocks separately from the beans. Just put them in a pan and cover with water and simmer for a good while. Then take them out, pour off the water (they usually have a lot of preservatives) take the skin off and the bones out and chunk up the ham. Use as much or as little as you like.

Put the ham in with your beans and taste for seasoning - take it easy on the salt, as the ham is salty. DO NOT put the ham in until the beans are most of the way done, as the salt will prevent the beans from softening. We use lots of fresh cracked pepper and a little thyme is good, too. If you want your beans a little thicker, take some and puree them in a blender and add back in.

Cook at a slow simmer until you can't stand it any more (make sure your beans are good and soft - after the overnight soaking, they should simmer at least 2 hours). You can cook them longer after you put the ham in, just make sure they are not boiling.

Pour you a big glass of cold tea, butter your cornbread and EAT!


Sorry for no picture, but this didn't stay around long enough!

5 comments:

Jan said...

That sounds great, Raquel. Country cooking at its best.

Marie said...

I love country cooking and I love homemade beans, navy beans please!

Cheryl said...

You are my saviour! My husbands family is from the south and I cannot make ham and beans that satisfy him or his family, I have tried endless times. Now I have your recipe!!! WOW Thanks!

Sue said...

I may have to give this recipe a try Raquel. I love Heinz baked beans that I buy at world market in Reno (British tinned beans) but cannot abide most American canned beans as they contain way too much sugar and sweetners for my taste. Yours look like a winner without all the sugary taste.

Angie said...

You Americans really are the experts on beans, Here in England they come in a tin and are called "baked"! Myself, I don't like Heinz. I find the sauce a bit wishy-washy, but there are so many different brands over here we're spolt for choice.
love, Angie, xx