Heirloom beans are a passion of mine. I love to grow different varieties, learn the stories behind the seeds, and save bean seeds. I gifted a partridge head pole bean I’ve been saving for the past 10 years with a Knott County farmer, Bobby, in episode one of The Farmer and The Foodie. Bobby was so pleased that we became instant friends. I even have dear friends who gift me bean seeds.
Nothing goes better with a pot of beans than a smoked ham hock. In the summertime, I like to make a light brothy pot of ham hock and beans then soak it up with a piece of cast iron cornbread.
Simple Summer Ham Hock and Beans Recipe:
- 1 lb dried beans (soaked overnight)
- 1 onion, diced
- 2-3 lb smoked ham hock
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 celery ribs, diced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1-2 cups of a mix of chopped summer veggies
- 2 tablespoons of a mix of fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, and tarragon.
- 1 teaspoon salt + more to taste
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
In a medium dutch oven, sauté onions for 5 minutes in olive oil. once the onions are translucent, sear the ham hock over medium heat, add the minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of salt, and then cover with 2 quarts of water. Simmer for 1 hour. Once the ham hock has simmered for 1 hour, add the chopped carrots and celery to the pot as well as the soaked beans. Simmer for another hour. Remove the meat from the bone by shredding it off with a fork (it should be nice and tender). Return the meat back to the pot, and discard the bone. Add in a mix of summer vegetables such as sweet bell peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, or eggplant. Sprinkle in the mix of fresh herbs and add salt and crushed red pepper to taste. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Enjoy with a slice of cornbread.
Here are a couple more delicious ham hock recipes with the unique flavor and texture of heirloom beans; Rancho Gordo is one of my favorite places to buy Heirloom Beans and this recipe they shared in 2018 is a classic. Try out this slow cooker recipe from food blogger Kristina based out of Amsterdam.
Savor the bounty of summer and bring back a classic. Smoked ham hocks will become a staple in your kitchen like it has been for generations of farmers and home cooks alike.