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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Southern Ham and Beans!


 
In this part of the south when we cook beans, we usually cook pintos or white beans (which can be great northerns or navy beans) or a mixture of the two.   These are our equivalent to the dried red beans they cook in the deep south (Louisiana, Mississippi).  Cooking beans is just like making sweet tea and cornbread, there are many different recipes and methods, depending on how your mama or grandma or whoever taught you to cook did it.   Therefore, I am not saying this is the only way to cook a pot of beans, but it is the way I cook them and the way we like them.

So much about southern cuisine is criticized as being 'not healthy' these days, sometimes unfairly and sometimes accurately,  and now there are such trends as 'meatless Mondays' and not eating meat, it's sort of funny to a lot of older southerners who can remember not only "Meatless Mondays" but meatless Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays, heck maybe meatless weeks at a time.  Southern folks learned a long time ago to make it on what they had and meat wasn't always part of that situation.   What they did have most of the time was dried beans and maybe some ham hocks (maybe) or some bacon grease or some lard...some sort of meat grease.   The ham hocks or bits of actual country ham would be a special pot of beans back in my grandmother's day, but she had a spoonful of bacon grease or lard to drop in them or a  little jowl bacon and that would season them up nicely too.  In my humble opinion, you cannot cook dried beans without some form of meat seasoning, even if it is just a spoonful of bacon grease.   It just makes all of the difference in the world.

Nowadays, I almost always put some form of ham or such in my beans, not a half a hog or anything but some, because we eat ham and beans as our main course much of the time along with cornbread, potatoes of some kind, maybe some greens, Vidalia onion, relish...you get the picture...lol.  The beans are not usually served alone.   I am finding that cooking dried beans is becoming a lost art with the younger crowd, at least those I know, and that concerns me.  Beans are great source of protein and fiber, calcium, and iron and so many good things and they are inexpensive.  Let's teach our children to cook! 

Now, let's cook some beans!   First, decide what kind you will cook.  I cook them all, but on this day I cooked mixed beans, pinto and great northerns.   This method will work for pintos or white beans.  Pintos do take a little longer to cook than white varieties do.   This is what I used in this pot of beans:

1 lb mixed dried beans (pintos and great northerns)
1 Tbs. salt  (taste for seasoning when done and add more if needed to your taste and depending on what type of meat you put in the beans)
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (optional)
1 Tbs. bacon drippings
2 cups chopped country ham pieces (or you could use a cut up ham steak if you cannot get country ham or don't care for it)

OPTIONAL:  You can use two smoked ham hocks in place of the chopped ham pieces, if you do, you can omit the bacon drippings because of the fat content in the ham hocks)






Place the beans one handful at a time in a colander in the sink.  Pick through them as you put them in the colander and pick out any little rocks or shriveled beans.  Run water over the beans to wash them off really well.  Beans that you get now are fairly clean, but I still like to wash them off well and pick through them, because you do find a little rock now and then and it's not pleasant to bite into those.
Place the beans in a deep pan.  I like to use my cast iron dutch oven, it cooks beans so well. Cover with water about 2 inches above the beans.  Bring to a boil.  Boil for about 2 minutes.  Watch carefully so they don't boil over. Carefully pour this water off of the beans and then cover with fresh water to about 2 inches above the beans.  Bring them to a boil once again and then turn down to a low simmer.  Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder,  and bacon drippings at this point.  Some say not to salt beans until they are done, because they will stay hard and won't get done as fast.  I have never had that experience so I am not sure why some people say that and I think they season best if seasoned early in the cooking.   OPTIONAL:  Some soak their beans in water overnight and then pour that off and start from there.  It does make cooking time a little shorter, but I prefer the quicker method of boiling and then pouring the water off.  It seems to reduce the bean's, ummm explosive after effects, if you know what I mean...lol.  


I like to let the beans cook for about 2 hours and then add in the chopped ham and cook them for at least another 2 hours. Add water at this point if the beans have soaked up too much water.   This is not a quick dish, but it is fairly carefree once you get it on.  Just be sure to check your beans about every hour and see if you need to add water. They will soak up the water like crazy and there is nothing that is worse than a scorched pot of beans.   If you are using ham hocks instead of the chopped ham, put them in at the very beginning because they need all of that cooking time to get them tender.  At close to the end of the cooking time, take the ham hocks out of the pot and let them cool enough to take the lean meat off the bone to add back to the pot.  Discard the bone and fat.


If you are using ham hocks, look for ham hocks that are meaty and that you can see some good lean meat on.  If you shop where there is an actual butcher (I know it's rare these days) and they don't have good packaged ham hocks, ask the butcher if he has some good meaty hocks in the back.  





When the beans are done, taste for seasoning and add accordingly.  If you used ham hocks, you might not need as much salt due to their high salt content.

Southern Ham and Beans! 










  


27 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I now cook all my dried peas and beans in the crock pot overnite until lunch next day when I can get to them with the ham and an onion quartered. So good and no soaking

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  2. thanks for sharing your recipe~ exactly how I fix my ham & beans~ <3 <3 Love me sum Han & Beans ~ yummmy

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  3. This is the good stuff. Love brown beans and cornbread. We cook them in a cast iron pot with a hunk of salted fatback. So tasty.

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  4. OOOOOOOOOOOH, That looks so good. I also like fried green tomatoes with mine. But your bowls of beans n ham...I just wanna jump in that picture and eat them.

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  5. Recently when faced with freezing or tossing the last of some grilled boneless pork ribs & steaks left from a bbq we had, I decided to use them in a crock pot of beans. The smoke-iness of the grilling and a little bit of bbq seasonings just made that pot of beans rock my kitchen with flavor. One way of stretching those leftovers a little farther...

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  6. Love this...has me hungry. Tell me what is the fried side next to corn cakes?

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  7. Beans is one of our favorite things to cook on Sundays. A roast or meatloaf can go with it or you can just keep it simple. Like you said the beans, cornbread are a meal. I love them with anyy other vegetable. Love your facebook page.

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  8. Love beans and ham. I have to have slaw, boiled potatoes, corn bread and a big ole piece of onion. Chow Chow is nice when I have it.

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  9. Just finished pinto beans and cornbread. Lord, I love being Southern.

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  10. I grew up on beans, love, love, love them! I cook both pinto and northern and depending on my mood I will add hamhocks, ham bone, eckridge sausage, or smokies! My mother taught me and I taught my sons. Makes for a wonderful meal and very inexpensive!

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  11. I know what I am cooking tomorrow. Mashed potatoes and cornbread will be a heavy carb night but good. Enjoy your page.

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  12. I love pinto beans with country ham, or bacon drippings; white beans with country ham, or a piece of smoked ham; or a mixture of pinto & white with any of the mentioned meats (smoked sausage is also good). When I get a sudden craving for beans, and don't have half a day to cook them, I fill the pressure cooker 1/2 full of water, and add about 3 cups of dried beans; and one of the meats for seasoning. I then pressure cook them for 1 1/2 hours under a gentle pressure (the jiggler apparatus on top of the lid gently jiggles). Wha La! I've got beans in no time. A cooking method my Momma taught me! :)

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  13. How do I keep the beans from breaking up during stirring? They are about 2 hours in and seem to be cooking a little faster than I thought. How do I know when they're done? I don't really like beans so I'm not a good taste tester. But my hubby loves them!

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  14. How do I know when the beans are done? Also, how do I keep them from breaking up during stirring?

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  16. Amanda, they should not break up much. You might be cooking them too high or stirring too much. Just cook on low and don't stir much... about once an hour. They are done when they mash with your spoon easily.

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  17. When I buy a ham I always leave a lot of ham on the bone , yep you know where that goes in a big ole pot of baby lima's never thought to mix them w/the pinto beans will next time...

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  18. Kathy - I tried your recipe for ham and beans yesterday and oh my goodness, they were delicious! Never could get my beans seasoned just right. The country ham with the little bit of bacon grease was perfect. I am so thankful I found your blog. Your recipes never disappoint! Thanks for much for sharing! Melissa

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  19. I can't wait to try it , my mama always great northern beans and salt pork , it was so delicious the way she made it , but then my mama made everything she cooked delicious ----- I try , but I'll never have her famous touch of cooking like she did ----- Thank-you , I love all the recipes I get on here -----

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  20. We Eat alot of dried beans in this house! Love them! Being Southern is wonderful huh? :) I use a small piece of fat back scored in squares. I was also taught by my Mother to salt at the end of cooking to prevent the meat of the beans from boiling out of their "jackets." Since fat back is added at beginning of cooking time, the seasoning is perfect! Nothing better than beans and cabbage with smoked sausage and corn bread!

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  21. I soak the dried beans overnight, rinse and the next morning before I go to work I put them in the crock pot on high with some country ham or smoked ham hock, salt n pepper and let them cook away. When I get home from work, I just have to fix the cornbread and some mashed potatoes and fried okra and dinner is ready. I tried cooking the beans without salt one time and found that I could never get them salty enough for our tastes once they had cooked. You really do need to salt the beans while they are cooking for the beans to absorb the salt.

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  22. We were raised on pinto beans and it was nothing for my Mama to cook 2 pots a day. I came from a big family...there were 9 of us and we were very poor.The beans were our main staple with my Mama's delicious biscuits. Once in a while we were lucky enough to have some turnip greens which I never liked or some fried potatoes. I still cook beans sometimes, but I put a "streak of lean & a streak of fat" side meat in mine.It gives them a really good taste. I cook mine about 2 and a half hours on med heat and watch them carefully.

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  23. I was raised on Pinto Beans and Biscuits to. Nothing any better than that. Oh I forgot the onion to. YUMMY!!

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