I admit, I am technically from the Midwest, but after moving here, I felt like I came from an entirely different planet. So, suffice it to say that my first experience with Ham and Beans was less than stellar.
By now, you all should know me fairly well, and not be shocked that I found a better way.
I will also admit that I am lazy in the kitchen. Not that there is anything wrong with a beautiful, albeit labor-intensive meal. And I have made more than my fair share of those. But when I find a shortcut that works, I embrace it.
Here is one of my favorites. Hurst's Hambeens.
Yep, this is a dried bean soup mix that you can find with the other dried beans in your local mega-mart (Super Wal-mart, for me). I prefer the 15 Bean Soup Mix (Cajun variety) because, well, I like my food to have flavor.
So, here is my recipe for the best ham and beans you'll ever eat.
Put 3-4 smoked ham hocks or shanks in the bottom of a 6 qt slow cooker (don't be skimpy, you know you want a lot of meat in it!).
Top with the dried beans.
Add 2 quarts of water.
Cook on Low all day (it helps if you can stir it a couple of times so the beans on top don't get dried out, but if it happens to me, I just skim those off.)
After about 8 hours, remove the ham, and discard the bones, skin, fat, and other undesirable bits.
Mix the seasoning packet from the Hambeens into the slow cooker.
Return the ham to the pot.
It should look like this:
And then like this......
Savory and just a tiny bit spicy, rich and thick, and perfect with cornbread to soak up the gravy (and I don't normally like cornbread, either). An absolutely perfect meal on a cold night in October.