Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dad’s Beans And Ham Hocks With Corn Bread

 Dad was always a “make a big pot of beans” kind of guy.  And this was one of his favorite “cook all day” meals.  You can either soak the beans overnight, or speed up the process by boiling them (I included directions on both methods).   He would always cook this for 2 to 4 hours, at least.   For this dish, he normally preferred to use pinto or white beans.   But he was also well known for using whatever he had on hand.   Honestly, there were no set rules in our house for what did or did not go in this dish.  It was extremely basic and simple in of itself (as you will see it is in the case of most recipes).  Then he would kind of throw in whatever little extra goodies sounded tasty to him that day.  So outside the basic formula, it was always slightly different.  But starting out, he did have several basic ingredients that were always included.   Which is what I put in the recipe.   You can tweak it to your liking.   I even remember one time where all we had was a package of bacon in the fridge (no ham hocks), so he fried that up and threw it in the beans instead!  Lol.   He has also used hamburger and cut up polish sausage links.   If you don’t eat pork, you can also use other bone-in meats (chicken with skin removed, beef, lamb, etc).    This recipe is easily doubled to suit your needs.   Dad always served it in a bowl, over corn bread, which I have also posted the recipe for. 

Dad’s Beans And Ham Hocks With Corn Bread

1 bag (16 oz.) pinto or white beans
Water (you can also use stock, but boiling the meat/bones will make its own)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 large onion, diced (yellow, white or red)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ stick butter
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 or 3 large bone-in ham hocks (be sure they have a decent amount of meat)
1 prepared dish of “Dad’s Corn Bread”, recipe posted here: 

Other Things Dad Sometimes Added:
Bell pepper diced
Chopped green chilies
Cumin and/or chili powder to taste
1 tsp oregano


1.  Sort the beans, getting rid of any rock, or beans that are broken or badly disfigured.   Place the good ones in a large cooking pot.
2.  If you choose to rinse the beans, do so now, in COLD water, through a colander.
3.  Fill the cooking pot with COLD water. Cover with a lid and let the beans soak overnight.  The next day, strain the water, rinse the beans and put them back in the pot, filling it with water about 2 inches above the beans.

OR, if you want this dish for dinner tonight, you can use this faster method—Bring the beans to a boil for 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let them soak for 2 hours.  The water will be very cloudy (or mauve-colored with red kidney beans).   Strain and rinse the beans, and put them back in the pot, covering them with about 2 inches of water.  **Getting rid of the old water removes a lot of the components that cause “gas” when you eat beans, by the way.   

4.  Bring the beans back up to a boil.  Then turn the heat down to medium, to simmer.  

5.  In a skillet over medium heat, stir and cook the onions and garlic, until onions are just soft, but not brown.  Add them to the pot of beans. 

6.  Add the butter, bay leaves, and salt/pepper to taste to the bean pot as well, stirring to mix the flavors.   If you want to add any extras, do so now. 

7.  Add the ham hocks to the bean pot.   Stir occasionally.   Taste every now and then, to see if you need to add anything.   Boil the beans and ham hocks for an additional 2 to 3 hours, or until the beans  are tender to your liking, and the meat is easily coming off the bone with a fork (or even falling off).    

8.  Remove from heat and serve in a bowl, over corn bread. 

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