July 24, 2011

Ham and Beans

I was shocked, recently, when it dawned on me that I have not yet talked about beans here. How could this be? Beans! My most favorite food on the entire planet! How could I have ignored beans? I don't know how this could happen. But I will change that today. Let's talk about beans!These are pinto beans. They are delicious, tender, quick growing bush style green beans. In early summer I harvest and eat some fresh as green beans, but then I let them go. I let the pods get big, overgrown, and tough. Through summer I let the pods dry out right on the plants. By fall they have usually become quite dry, but not dry enough yet to shell and store. At that time I pull the drying dying plants out of the ground. I shove those plants down into feed sacks and put them in a dry place. Shoving whole plants into the sacks allows some air to circulate and the beans dry nicely like this. I let them stay there for several weeks, until the beans are dry enough to shell and store.

Each year I put up jars of these beautiful beans.But I always save some for seed so I can plant more of my beloved pinto plants the following summer.

Many of my favorite meals are made with these beans.

Let me introduce you to this one: Ham and Beans.Here's how I make them...

Soak beans in water overnight. When ready to cook, drain and rinse them and put them in a pot with a chopped onion, a nice smoked ham hock, and cover with water. Put the pot on a campfire, grill, or cook them on your kitchen stove. Let this cook for several hours.When the beans are tender and the meat is falling off the hock, remove the hock and let it sit until it is cool enough to handle. Pull the meat off the hock and put the meat back into the pot. Season with salt, pepper, a touch of molasses, and a bit of your favorite hot spice, like cayenne pepper or chipolte powder. Then simmer with the lid off until it reduces to the consistency you like.

I like these just like this, with cornbread.But they are also good with a bit of fresh crunchy chopped onion on top.Or add some cheese.And sour cream.Or any combination of these toppings.

Try these ham and beans... I know you'll like them!HAM AND BEANS

2 cups dry pinto beans
1 smoked ham hock
1 to 2 cups chopped onion
1 to 2 tablespoons molasses
a pinch of hot spice, cayenne or chipolte powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Soak beans overnight. When ready to cook, drain and rinse beans. Put beans, ham hock, and chopped onion in a large pot. Cover with two inches of water. Cover pot and cook for several hours, until beans become tender and meat is falling off the hock. Remove hock and let it sit until it is cool enough to handle. Pull meat from hock and return meat to bean pot. Add molasses, hot spice, and salt and pepper to taste. Let beans simmer, uncovered, until liquid in beans thickens to the consistency you like. Top with chopped onion, shredded cheese, or sour cream, as desired. Serve with cornbread!


MARARIA said...

UMMMMMMMM delicious! I like pinto beans a lot however my husband and son like the white ones and... as i´m the one who cooks... I make the pinta ones with rice apart. jejeje. I must try this recipe! I hope you´ll share more beans recipes with us!


homegrown countrygirl said...

Hi Mararia! I love beans! And I think that they are the most perfect food in the world because they have fiber and protein and also because they are so easy to dry and keep in storage. Yes! I'll definitely share more bean recipes! Beans beans beans!