Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Green Beans with Ham Hocks

Green beans with some kind of pork product are a regular visitor to our Thanksgiving dinner. My son calls them "Beans cooked until they're dead." This just goes to illustrate cultural cross pollination, as no one from New England would dream of cooking string beans for three hours with a half a pound of bacon. But, Southern Ohio, where Bob's family came from, is or was a little slice of the South, and he likes them too. I like them once in a while.
So I knew they would be pretty popular at a Southern dinner. I got the beans at the Bethesda Women's Farm Market. They were delectable looking, crisp and totally fresh. I had examined the string beans at Safeway a day or two earlier and found them slimy and not fresh. Uninspiring, in fact. This is one of the all time easy dishes. It's mainly boiling, and surely, anyone can boil. It's basically, boil beans, let them sit, and boil them some more. It is not a dish Michelle Obama would be pleased with, but, you know, once in a bloody great while, it won't kill you. Just don't make a habit of cooking your beans until they are dead. If you want to make this before all the beans are killed off in a frost, go to the farmers' market this weekend.

Green Beans Southern Style

2 pounds green beans 
1 ham hock
2 teaspoons salt
1 small hot pepper (bird's eye peppers are best). (I used a long skinny chili pepper from my neighbor's garden. Worked fine.)

1. Wash the beans, cut off the ends and snap beans in two.
2. Place the ham hock in a large kettle, cover with water and boil fifteen minutes. Add beans, the salt and hot pepper and more water almost to cover the beans.
3. Bring to a boil, cover and boil forty minutes. Add more water if necessary. Turn off heat and let rest several hours. (I have no idea what this is about. Anyone who does, please comment and tell us why the beans have to rest.)
4. Simmer thirty-five minutes longer before serving. Serve beans with pieces of ham from hock. Makes six to eight servings.

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