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Ham and Beans

On these cold wintery days, I like to have a pot of soup or beans cooking during the day. It seems to somehow make the house cozier. A few weeks back, there was a good sale on bone-in hams.


We were not raised eating pork, and the very first time I ever encountered this better-than-turkey, Southern Thanksgiving Fare, was in Amarillo, Texas, during the warmest Thanksgiving I ever remember celebrating. I arrived from California, with my suitcase full of corduroy pants, turtleneck tees, and sweaters, only to encounter 75 degrees and a houseful of Southern Cooks baking every sort of delectable dish ever to be stuck in an oven...for 24 hours straight...and with no air conditioning!! My hair was dripping wet and frizzing for three days straight! But I ate. Boy did I eat!


I remember waking up early on Thanksgiving morning to a heady, smoky, meaty smell, and wandering into the kitchen in my sweats, asking WHAT that wonderful aroma was?? And for the first time, I was introduced to the wonderful thing that is a slow-cooked, bone-in, smoked ham. "Here, try a bit", I was offered...and I have never looked back.


So, as I was saying before my memories took over, I got a nice bone-in ham and put it in a metal baking dish and followed the baking chart directions. A few hours later, I pulled out this lovely, fall-off-the-bone ham. After letting it cool until I could handle it, I separated the chunks off the bone and set them on a plate to slice for supper and for sandwiches and breakfasts. I transferred the bones and the lovely juice and fat in the bottom of the pan, into my Grandma's old Dutch Oven Pot. I added 2 cups of dried white navy beans, 2 cans of chicken broth, a few whole allspice, some whole peppercorns, and 3-4 bay leaf. I put the cover on the pot and stuck in the oven at 250 degrees.

After a couple of hours, I pulled the pot out. The beans had soaked up all the liquid, so I added water to cover everything (including the ham bone) and returned the pot to the oven to cook for another 8 hours.


The house smelled fantastic!

I pulled the beans from the oven and removed the bones from the soup. In a frying pan, I sautéed an entire onion and 3 sticks of celery, chopped, in a little butter. While they were cooking, I chopped up 4 carrots. After adding all that to the pot, I brought everything to a simmer on a top burner and let it cook for about an hour.

Hams are inherently salty, so I did not add any at all, and this was a perfect saltiness.

With a couple of pieces of cornbread, we had

an amazing dinner, and enough for another

meal or two! Yumm!










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