Ham and Beans…the TRUE Southern Comfort

Oh, ham and beans, how I love thee.

You are so warm and comforting in my tummy.

You are so easy to make.

You are the perfect reminder of my youth and my Po-Po.

Yes, folks, ham and beans is the epitomy of true, down home, southern comfort.  It is quite easily one of the first meals I mastered in my younger years.

I am the decendant of a long line of Oklahoma southerners.  Po-Po, my dear great-grandfather, was RELIGIOUS about his ham and beans.  He taught his daughter, who taught her son, who taught me.

There are three things about ham and beans that make it an ULTIMATE meal.

1. You can feed an entire family of 6 for under $10…dare I say, under $6.

2. I would go so far as to put this in the 30-minute meal category.  No, it’s not done in 30 minutes, but if you prepare yourself you can come home from work and have supper on the table in under 30.

3. Ham and beans consists of THREE, yes, I said THREE, ingredients.

You will need:

1 ham hock

1.5 lbs. dried pinto beans

water

Ham and beans requires a little bit of prep work.  The night before, sort the beans.  This simply means to sift through them picking any beans that are really discolored, shriveled and/or mangled looking.  Put the beans in a LARGE bowl and cover with water, at least 2 to 3 inches over the beans.  Leave them on the counter to soak overnight.

The next morning, drain the water off the beans.

Get out your crockpot and if you have one of those lovely crock pot liners put that in.  I love, LOVE, LURVE crockpot liners.  I want to kiss the feet of whoever invented them because I LOATHE washing the crockpot.

Put the ham hock in the bottom of the crockpot.  Like so…

“What IS that thing?”, you ask.

A ham hock is the lower portion of the hog’s leg.  It’s smoked and packaged to be used in stuff like this.  This is where ALL the flavor for your ham and beans will come from.  Every ounce of deliciousness is packed in that baby!!  If you don’t find ham hocks in your meat department ask your butcher.  More than likely, he will have one in the back.

Okay… once you get that little beauty in the bottom.  Put your beans on top.

Next pour water over the beans and ham hock until completely covered.

If your crockpot is as full of contents as mine you’ll want to make sure that the water comes all the way to the top, like so.

The beans will absorb a lot of the liquid while cooking.

At this point, put the lid on and cook on low for about 8 hours.

When you get home remove the ham hock, gently, from the crockpot and place it on a large plate.  Remove the skin and excess fat and shred the meat.  Return the shredded meat to the crockpot and combine.

You are now ready to eat a heaping bowl of ham and beans.

WAIT!

WAIT!

WAIT!

Okay, so you aren’t quite ready yet.

In order to properly obtain full ham and bean enjoyment you first must make a pan of cornbread.  You see, my fine friends, any true Southerner knows that ham and beans are NOT complete without a piece of cornbread in the bottom of his/her bowl to soak up the dilectable juices.

So, to correct myself, the FIRST thing you do when you come home is turn on the oven and whip up a batch of cornbread, throw it in the oven and THEN you may proceed with shredding the ham hock.

Now….you may eat your beans.

Peace, love and magical fruit!

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