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.
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.
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.
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.
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!