I wish I had my mom’s own recipe for ham and beans, but I think this comes close.
Ham and Beans
- 1 pound dry beans, soaked overnight (I use Great Northern beans. My mom always used navy beans.)
- 1 T dry onion (or as much fresh onion as you care to add)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tsp celery seed (or use fresh celery)
- 1 tsp dry basil
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 T. cider vinegar
- 3 c. ham
- Salt to taste (Remember that the ham may be very salty, so taste before adding more salt.)
Rinse the beans in cold water, discarding shriveled beans, small stones, etc. Drain the beans and place in a soup pot, covering with 8 cups of water (or to at least twice the depth of the beans). Let soak overnight. The next day, drain and replace the water. Put the pot over medium heat until the water starts to boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until the beans soften (about two hours). The spices can be added when the beans are simmering, but do not add the salt until about half way through the cooking time. Add the ham, and taste for saltiness. Continue to simmer until done.
Personally, do yourself a favor and buy a smoked pork shank. Our local butcher recommended it to me and it makes delicious ham and beans. I put the pork shank in a crock pot on low overnight. The next day, I pull the meat and the bones, and throw away the fat. I add the bone to the beans as they simmer. When the beans are soft enough to eat, I add the meat to the beans and continue to simmer for a bit. If the beans need more liquid, I use some I’ve saved from the crock pot. If the liquid is kept in the fridge while the beans cook, the fat will harden and can easily be lifted from the top, leaving the flavorful liquid. Just be mindful that the liquid is probably rather salty.
The ham and beans should be served with cornbread, of course. Try my favorite recipe, if you like.