I have a friend, Melanie, that didn’t like lima beans. Turns out that she had only tasted the canned or frozen kind, and they had been cooked with indifference.
Look, you’re not going to make a woman reach her happy place with an indifferently cooked frozen or canned anything.
To make a woman smile, a man needs to spend some time in the kitchen.
Almost all of the better lima bean cooks, people who soak their beans overnight and use an acceptable herb and spice mix, fail on more than one level.
First, never use the small and medium size beans, they cook up hard, like little unpleasant rocks.
Second, most folks use a 1:1 pork to bean ratio. Now anyone who knows anything knows that pork is a divine food, so 2:1 pork to beans is better.
Third, most folks just chop or dice their veggies and add them raw to be boiled or simmered. Love demands a little better technique, saute your veggies, make a classic mirepoix.
Finally, too many cooks only allow an hour or so in the pot, where I have flavors marrying for many hours.
I have yet to meet anyone, having tasted a bowl, that doesn’t love this dish. My friend Melanie liked it, and just asked for the recipe.
Oh, serve it up with cornbread and butter; I hope you enjoy what for me is real southern comfort food.
Ham Hocks and Lima Beans – cooked Cesano style
1 pound package dried LARGE lima beans
2 pounds smoked ham hock
2 TBS butter
1 TBS olive oil
1 large onion, chopped – small dice
2 large celery stalks, chopped – small dice
2 large carrots, washed and chopped – small dice
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 1/2 bay leaves
salt to taste
In a large bowl, cover dried beans with 8 cups cold water, let stand overnight. Drain beans, reserving water.
In large pot, melt butter mixed with olive oil, create a mirepoix au gras – saute onion, celery and carrots until softened, then add the ham hocks and add reserved water to cover. Cover, heat to to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
Add the beans, and everything except salt. Add any remaining water – note: you might have to add some new water as you will be simmering for a very long time.
Simmer for 5 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. The lima beans will be recognizably lima bean, yet will have lost some of their integrity and texture, absorbing delicious pork flavor, while giving up some of their starch to the liquid helping create a near stew like consistency. Remove the bay leaves and discard. You can remove the meat and fat from the bones, and discard the bones – and fat if desired.
The ham hocks and lima beans will have taken on salt from the 6 hours of cooking with the smoked ham hock, but you may add salt to taste if needed.
Serve. Unused portion can be frozen and heated for future servings.