Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Classics: Navy Beans & Ham

Just like gramma used to make! Simple and filling this has fed our family for generations. My grandmother was never too far from a big ol' pot of beans. Navy beans, Great Nortern, lima, and butter beans, all got simmered on the stove all afternoon with some sort hog bones. Ham bones, neck bones, pig's feet, you were never quite sure what it was going to be, but you knew it would be good.

So here's our entire ingedient list: 1 left over ham bone that I had stashed in the freezer, 1 one pond bag of dried navy beans and 1 onion.
Place the ham bone in your dutch oven.
Pour 2 quarts of water over, don't worry if it doesn't cover it completely. Now turn the burner up on high, put the lid on the pot and let it boil good for an hour or so.
After that hour, remove the lid, turn your heat down to medium, flip your ham bone over. Prepare your dry beans. Do what you do, sort 'em, rinse 'em, scrub 'em, disinfect 'em - or do like I do, tear open the bag and pour them in! The whole bag.
Now chunk up that onion (large dice) and put it in the pot too.
Sprinkle the whole thing with some pepper, put the lid back on and let it boil gently until the beans are soft. Don't salt it just yet. Check it every so often and if it looks like you need it you can add some more water. Easy does it because in the end we want it to be thick and creamy.
Now while the beans are cooking if you can twist bits of meat off the bone, it's cooked enough for the next step. Remove it from the pot, let it drain and cool so that you can remove the meat from the bone.
Toss in all those tasty little bits and dispose of the bone.
Now turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer until the beans are soft.
When the beans are totally soft, take your spoon and mash the beans. You want to mash about a third of them. This is going to release the starch that will serve as our thickener. You'll know you've mashed enough when the broth gets all cloudy.
And now we're going to let it simmer without the lid from here on out. This will let it thicken up nicely and concentrate the flavors, I still have not added any salt up to this point.
Let them cook down until it's as thick as you want it. Now you can add salt if it needs it!
Dish it up! I've added a big dose of fresh salsa to mine. My step dad always ate his with a coupl hefty slices of Bermuda onion. You add what you like.
Serve it up with some thick slices of still warm home made bread slathered in butter and you've got a meal that even your great grandfather would recognize. That's cheesy green chili quick bread, and some day I'll get the recipe for that up here! Enjoy!

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