Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ham And Bean Soup

My house smells incredible. And it's not because I did my yearly cleaning. I did that last week.

I have been dying for ham and bean soup like my grandmother made when I was a kid for almost a week now. I didn't even know what it was made with except it had kidney beans and some bits of ham. My grandmother passed away last year and my mother had no clue what I was talking about.

I LOVE the internet. I spent some time flipping through pages and found what I figured was the recipe. Ham hocks and kidney beans done in the crock pot. What are ham hocks and do I really want to know?? I didn't. Pig ankles. My grandma used pig ankles?? No way.

So I headed to Wal-mart and such a thing exists. Dirt cheap too. Picked up some kidney beans in a bag, finished up grocery shopping and headed home. That night I soaked the beans in water with a small amount of vinegar in a pan on the stove. Then I put the hocks in the crock pot, filled water up about an inch over them, turned it on low and went to bed. Some recipes said to cook on low for 24 hours. Err..okay.

This morning I checked the crockpot and it smelled wonderful but there wasn't any meat, just lots of fat. What happened to the meat? I went back to the internet and realized some recipes had hocks and others had shanks. What are shanks?? Something else I don't want to know about? If I understand it right, shanks are the legs from the knee to the ankle.

Woo Hoo! I'm learning pig anatomy.

I stopped by the Time Warner place to pay my bill and asked Kay about this soup. She and several others insisted that hocks instead of shanks were the only way to go as the fat added much more flavor. They also said that next time go to the local store in town to get them and not at a major supermarket.

I still wanted some more meat and went to another store to see if they had shanks. They had some fully cooked ones so I bought a package and dumped them in the pot. A few hours later I checked and the hocks and shanks had fallen off the bones and could easily be shredded up. It tastes like heaven.

Who knew pig ankles and part of the legs of a pig could make such an incredible soup?

Forget the fancy ham. It tastes like salt. This stuff is divine.


JuJu said...

Just had to comment .... I fix ham & beans several times during the winter months. But I just learned to cook the hocks in a crock pot!! Meat right off the bone! Cook the hocks in plain water once the meat is off the bone, remove the meat from the fatty water. Let that cool and then pour into a old coffee can or something like that, put in the ref. until solid, then into the garbage. Then mix your beans and meat with water to cover and season as you wish.