What to do with that ham bone from the holiday ham? Freeze it to use later, if need be, you don't want to waste all that free flavor goodness! Better yet, here's how to make Ham and Beans, just good-for-you dried beans, a few vegetables, the right mix of dried herbs and the oh-so-important ham bone. We usually "slow cook" Ham and Beans in the oven but I've also had great luck cooking Ham and Beans in a slow cooker.
The best thing about ham for Sunday dinner? The Easter ham? The Christmas ham? It’s the day-after meal, a big pot of beans that’s simmered glug-glug all day with the ham bone.
Call me plebian but Ham & Beans rock my world. Show me a bowl of good beans and I’ll show you a woman happy to empty said bowl three meals a day.
I love how Ham & Beans change from one meal to the next. The first bowl, the beans and vegetables remain all distinct and individual. You can taste the carrots, you can see and taste the beans, but separately. The second bowl, the beans have turned cozy-creamy, the beans binding soft chunks of meat and carrot. By the third, the beans are a hammy sludge, decidedly un-pretty to look at but hearty and oh-so home-good satisfying.
HOW to QUICK-SOAK DRIED BEANS If there’s no time to soak the beans overnight, there’s an easy way to prepare the beans for cooking. Just rinse and pick through the beans, cover with cold water in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, leave the cover on and let rest for an hour. Drain before continuing.
COMFORT FOOD RECIPE:
HAM & BEANS
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes about 12 cups
- 1 pound dried beans, preferably Great Northern beans or small white beans (see TIPS)
- 1 ham bone
- 1 poblano pepper, chopped very small
- 1 onion, chopped small
- Water to cover or up to 8 cups water (use less for thick beans, up to 8 cups for something akin to Ham & Bean Soup, see TIPS)
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 3 ribs celery, cut into large chunks
- 1/2 pound chopped leftover ham
- Parsley, optional but looks pretty for pictures, tee hee
SOAK BEANS Rinse the beans under running water in a colander and pick through to remove any small stones or deformed beans. Transfer to a large pot or Dutch oven and cover with cold water and let soak overnight. Rinse and drain.
TO "SLOW COOK" IN THE OVEN Preheat oven to 225F/105C. Combine the soaked beans, onion, ham bone, water and seasoning and bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to oven. Cook for about 3 hours. (If starting with 4 cups of water, check the beans every hour or so to see if they’re getting dry, if so, add water about a cup at a time. Do be sure to leave room for the vegetables and ham that will be added later.)
Add the carrots, celery and ham and cook for at least another 3 hours and as many as 6 hours, until the beans are fully cooked and begin to get quite creamy.
TO COOK IN A SLOW COOKER Combine all ingredients except the parsley in the slow cooker and cook for 8 - 10 hours on low or 4 – 6 hours on high.
MAKE-AHEAD TIP Cook Ham & Beans one day, then refrigerate overnight. The next day, bring the beans back to a boil, then place in a 180F/80C to safely hold as long as you need. Here, it's so so great to spend the day in the country, then come home to a hearty hot supper that's on the table in no time flat.
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