This is the classic of all classics… Beans and cornbread has graced every table in the south and the mid-west for many, many years. It has graced the trails of thousands of cowboys and wagon trains along with the southern and mid-west families. It truly is a traditional classic in a class of it’s own. It is simple to make and easy to eat. I think it deserves more credit than it is given and it will always have a place on my dinner table. So, with that being said…..let’s get started.
1 lb large dried lima beans (butter beans)
1 ham hock ( you can use : 2 cups diced baked ham or 6 slices diced bacon or salt pork)
9 cups water – plus more if needed
1/8 tsp baking soda
salt and pepper to taste
- Place the beans on the counter and sort through the bean. Remove any bad beans, torn beans, or debris from them. Place the beans in a bowl. Rinse the beans to remove any dirt or dust. Drain well and set aside in the bowl until needed.
- In a large dutch oven over medium low heat, if you are using diced baked ham, bacon, or salt pork cook them for about 4 minutes or until desired doneness.
- Add 1 cup of water to the pan and scrape up any stuck on bits. Add the remaining water and beans and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and add the baking soda. This helps remove some of the gases that the beans produce during cooking. The liquid will slightly foam up. Skim off any of the foam that the beans produce and discard.
- Bring the mixture to a boil ( skimming off foam as you go until the water is mostly free of the gassy foam) cook for 15 to 20 minutes uncovered.
- Turn the beans to low and cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the beans are to your desired doneness. Season the beans with salt and pepper to taste and serve.
- Do not season the beans with salt and pepper at the start of the cooking process as this will result in the beans being undercooked and taking a more lengthy time to cook. Always season after the beans have cooked.
- If you want a more creamy consistency stir the beans more frequently. This will cause the beans to break down and create a bean-y type broth.
- If you want the beans to be more intact stir less frequently. This will keep the beans intact and you will have a more soupy clear broth. It all depends on how you like your beans.
- Add water as you go only if you need it. If the water gets to low add 1 cup of water at a time so the broth doesn’t get to soupy and you have more soup broth than beans. Just add as much as you like your bean liquid.
- At the end of the cooking process you can add any type of seasoning you like.
- Serve with green onion, sliced white onion or cornbread.