Monday, January 21, 2013

After-Christmas Beans & Ham

Have you ever been guilty of slipping the ham bone into the trash (and making sure nobody saw you?)  I admit I’ve done that a few times, but I was raised to never waste ANYthing that could be used.    My mother taught me that time is your friend when trying to get every meaty scrap off a ham bone.

Usually a good week or two goes by before I am even the least bit motivated to deal with a ham bone after Christmas.  This year I was early - I had my HoneyBaked Ham bone made into this hearty soup by New Year’s Eve.  

Key to success here?  Soak your beans overnight, and you are halfway there.  This year I used Great Northerns - a very soft-textured bean compared with the ones I used to use (standard red beans).  I have to say - these were a good choice.  They are so mild that they take on the rich taste of the ham and you hardly know they are there.

If you are using the bone from a spiral-sliced (and glazed) ham - throw it ALL in - including the glaze and all the scraps.  The glaze makes the broth very rich and slightly sweet.  

After simmering all day long, you’ll notice every scrap of meat has fallen off the bone.  I use my tongs to remove it all, then I clean it up and remove all the fat and the gristle (which has turned completely soft).  I dice the meat into bite-size chunks and return it to the broth.

Not much need to add anything in the way of spices - and especially NOT salt.  The ham bone has all you need (and more).  

To dilute the salty broth, you can add more water without losing flavor.  Depending on how well your ham bone was trimmed, you may need to skim off a layer of fat after cooking.

For this simple recipe, go to:

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