Last Christmas Eve, the cooking reins were (reluctantly) turned over to my brother, my sister-in-law, The Chef, and I. Since we were now in charge (oh boy!), we decided to veer from the family’s traditional Christmas Eve meal (uh oh!) and create a Southern-themed menu for the evening. The recipe for one of the dishes we served, “home-style butterbeans,” came from the December 2008 issue of Southern Living. The butterbeans were slowly cooked with bacon and brown sugar, and I’m happy to report they were a huge hit among everyone at dinner … as was the rest of the meal (whew!).
Both The Chef and I have thought about those beans from time to time and recently decided to make them again. We were just coming off of the Food Outreach Hunger Challenge, and one of the things I missed most during the challenge was meat (compared with most other foods, meat is expensive and therefore is typically a small part of one’s diet when on a limited budget).
I decided to up the home-style butterbean ante and adapt the recipe to include an additional protein to satisfy my meat craving and make the dish into an entree rather than just a side. Served with a green salad and cornbread, my devious plan was a success.
The addition of chunks of ham, pulled from a smoked ham hock we simmered with the beans, added another layer to the dish, and the substitution of pork jowl for bacon and chicken stock for water also enhanced the flavor. All in all, this was a hearty dish that was even substantial enough to eat by itself as lunch leftovers the next day.
Here’s my adapted version of the recipe, which I’m lovingly calling “Pork and Beans.” I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
“Pork and Beans”
- 5 pork jowl slices, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 (16-oz.) package frozen butterbeans
- 1/4 cup butter
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 small to medium smoked ham hock
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1. Saute pork jowl and onion in a large Dutch oven over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, until browned and onion is tender.
2. Add brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved.
3. Add in butterbeans and butter; cook until butter is melted and beans are thoroughly coated.
4. Add chicken stock and ham hock.
5. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 2 hours or until beans are tender and liquid is thickened.
6. Remove ham hock; pull meat from bone and return to Dutch oven Discard bone.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Notes: Frozen baby lima beans may be substituted for the butter beans. Bacon may be substituted for the pork jowl.