Woo hoo! Nuthin’ says country like a pot of ham and beans for supper. Paired with some hot cornbread, beans and ham are a southern classic. There are two types of beans that are typically used for beans and ham. Navy beans, which are smaller and hold their shape better during cooking and Great Northern Beans which are larger and softer when cooked. Beans and ham (or just beans if you don’t have any ham) are easy to make. They just take a little time.
Navy beans on left, Great Northern beans on the right.
1 small onion
1 cup ham
1 and 1/2 cups dry navy beans
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon salt
1.2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
3-5 cups of water
Sauté onion in olive oil or butter until slightly caramelized. Add the ham and brown slightly. Add the navy beans to the pot and stir them around a bit to coat with oil. Add the salt. Cover the beans with the beef broth and 2 cups of the water. Bring to a boil.
Turn off the heat and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and leave for one hour. This resting time allows the beans to expand and soak up the stock and salt. After one hour, unlid the pot and add enough water to cover the beans by a couple of inches. The stock continues to evaporate as the beans cook and continue to take on water. Add the balsamic vinegar and the Worcestershire. Continue cooking for about 3 hours on simmer until your beans are as done as your like. I don’t like mine cooked to death, so I typically stop at about 2 and a half hours, but you decide how toothy you want your pot of beans. Continue to add water as it evaporates. You want your beans to be kind of soupy.
Make a pone of cornbread (or buy it) and get to eatin’. Here in the south we crumble up our cornbread in the bottom of the bowl and put beans right on top…yum. If it is Sunday and we have company, we’ll be nice and put our cornbread on a plate and slather with butter. Either way works.
This makes enough beans for about 2 people for dinner, two for dinner plus leftovers.