Tag Archives: ham

Ham and Beans

Today, dear friends, we weep.    I have used up, in many delicious and satisfying ways, the glorious 14+ lb. Christmas Ham I bought for Holiday 2012.  Yes, I bought more than fourteen pounds of pure heaven cured pork for just the two of us on Christmas day.  Still, a 14+ pounder?  Yus.  Why?  Leftovers; 5 meals using every single bit of that gigantic hunk of pig ambrosia.  And now it is gone.   And,It.Was.Good.

Did I mention that Mr. Man’s friend since high school is the cop that always pulls inside store duty on Christmas Eve?  I didn’t?  Oh.  Yes, thanks to Mr. Man and his amazing network of friends, I get the hunney-bake-hook-up with a discount that would make all of you weep and gnash your teeth.  Makes my holly-day as I’m trying desperately to hold in my “Squeeee” while still inside the store.

Ham & Beans is just about the easiest thing in the EN-TIRE world to make and it is soooo good and I am surprised at how many folks just don’t know it.  Please.  Do not let yourself to be one of these unfortunates any longer.

Now for the ham in the beans you can use just about any old ham type thing you can find, so never ever throw away a ham-bone from a whole ham. You can freeze the dang thing for close to six months and still use it just fine. In the absence of a particularly fine ham-bone  get some nice meaty ham hocks at the grocery. Now it’s my very own opinion, but having the bone in there makes the richest broth. Now if you’re really in a pinch or just don’t want to fool with fishing out the bones & the fat, then use as much diced ham as you want, but you won’t get the same flavor, just sayin’. It’s all personal preference but I make them like my Grandma from Kentucky (say it “CANE-TUCK-EE) made ’em.

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Now that you have some prime pork available, get a 1 lb. bag of either navy beans or great northern beans. Both are nice white beans, navy beans are little, great northern beans are big and I figure that’s why they’re called great northern beans instead of lesser northern beans, although I’m pretty sure they’re isn’t anything called a lesser bean.

Now, you can fool with the beans over night, soaking and rinsing and I’ve done that many times, but for my purpose this day, I decided to use the slow cooker because I decided I needed to eat this during the week.

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I thoroughly rinsed and picked the beans over, put them in the pot first, laid that choice pork on top and added the following:

1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, chopped or mince
1 teaspoon of Red Pepper Flakes (or pepper to taste if you don’t want a little kick to it)
1 Tablespoon Parsley
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 cup brown sugar
5 cups of water

Stick a lid on it, turn it on low and head out the door for work.

When you get home, you’ll want to pick out the bones and the larger pieces of fat and I do this using tongs but a slotted spoon will work fine to scoop out the shrapnel. Most of the meat should be gone off the bones, floating in your beans, but some might be clinging, so give it a hand & scrape it back into the pot. The meat chunks should break up easily with the back of your spoon.

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You don’t have to serve this immediately.  Pop the lid back on and keep it at low or set your cooker on the ‘warm’ setting if you have it.  It makes an awful lot and my own self, personally, I think it’s one of those things that’s even better the 2nd time as leftovers. Heated up beans with ketchup! Yum!

Oh, & just so you know the baking soda in beans does three things; 1) Makes the broth a bit creamier; 2) keeps the beans from splitting and; 3) reduces the gas making factor of the beans.

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Ham and beans makes me wish I was in the North East right now getting whomped by snow!  Not much better when it comes to winter fare; leisurely sopping it up while watching Old Man Winter deliver one of his occasional TKO’s.   Stay warm, stay safe and stay fed!

That’s enough.

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Make ’em a sammich!

“A sammich is not just a sandwich, it is not just a meal. Sammich is a term reserved for only the holiest and mightiest of all sandwiches. A sammich is a true work of culinary art; a feast on a bun, if you will.” – Urban DictionaryDSCN0095

Twenty plus years ago, before Al Gore gave us the interwebz, when my Littles were still, well, little, the two best places to find new recipes were in cookbooks at the library or on food packages.  Now I could find hundreds to try in the same 60 minutes it took me to find one or two at the library while the Littles enjoyed Story Hour and I enjoyed the quiet in my own head.  This isn’t one of those, though, I remember that I found the root of what would become the “Mighty Sammich Loaf” on the back of a package of frozen bread dough.

The thing I adore about this recipe, especially now that I’m cooking for just two, is that it’s a sure fire way to use up good cuts of leftover meats.  In this case, it’s the next to last of the Christmas ham, and oh what an awesome hunk of pure porcine pleasure was that hunney of a baked ham!  (Wink! Wink!)

To make this “Mighty Sammich Loaf” you will need:

  • One loaf of frozen bread dough, thawed
  • DSCN00781/4 cup honey mustard salad dressing
  • 8-10 oz ham, chopped
  • 4 oz. baby swiss cheese
  • One egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 T. heavy cream or half and half (optional)
  • 1 T. sesame seeds

The great thing about using frozen bread dough is that you can take the loaf out of the freezer in the morning.  Lay out a piece of plastic wrap, spray it with non-stick cooking spray, wrap it up, stick it in the fridge and it’s perfectly thawed without having risen any by the time that you get home from work!

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You will need a parchment lined baking sheet and a rolling pin and some dusting flour.  Roll the thawed dough out to a 14″ x 10″ rectangle.  If you just start rolling the dough length-wise, it will widen perfectly on it’s own.  Stretch corners to maintain the rectangle as best you can.

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Transfer the rectangle to the baking sheet and layer the meat, dressing and cheese down the middle.  Using a sharp knife, make 7-8 diagonal slits in the dough from the edge of the filling to the edge of dough.  I fold my ends in a bit to prevent seepage of the filling during baking, but you can cut it off and just seal the ends well.  I love bread, so I always save the extra thick end pieces for myself!

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Beat the egg with the whipping cream or half and half, adding the cream isn’t necessary, but I like the extra sealing power. DSCN0090Brush the edges of the dough with the beaten egg and starting at one end, pull the dough strips up and over (don’t be afraid to tug on them) and tuck them under the loaf.  Weave the strips to create a pretty bread and then brush the whole loaf with beaten egg and sprinkle on the sesame seeds.

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Pre-heat the oven to 400° while you let the loaf rise about 15 minutes over a hot water pan, OR, because I hate leaving out my besties, lazy and easy, I fill one side of my double sink with hot water and lay the baking sheet over it for an easy-steam.

It won’t get gigantic or rise a bunch, but a brief rest over this tiny hot tub very much improves the texture of the loaf.DSCN0093

Pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes and bake until golden.  Let it rest about 5 minutes before cutting.  You can cut it in 1″ strips for appetizers or big hunks for dinner.  It warms up well the next day if you happen to have even one single piece leftover for lunch.

You can use any combination of meat, dressings and cheeses to create whatever type of loaf you’re craving.  Leftover Sunday roast?  Saute some onions and peppers, and use ranch dressing and Monterrey Jack cheese for a Philly Loaf.  Corned beef plus well drained kraut and 1000 Island and it’s an incredible Reuben Loaf.   Very versatile and no one needs to know it’s the last of the leftovers except you!

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