Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Green Beans, Country Style

When my parents got together it was city meets country.  My mom's mother made things like clam chowder, lamb and custard.  My dad's mother made things fried in lard, potato pancakes, and apple pie, made with home grown apples.  There is something to be said for both styles of cooking and I feel that I had the best of both worlds.
Of the many ways my grandmothers' cooking differed, green beans seemed to be one of the more hotly debated.  My mom grew up on steamed beans and my dad grew up on a much longer cooked version.  They are polar opposites.  One is bright green, fresh and slightly crisp.  The other is softer, almost fall-apart, and usually combined with other ingredients and eaten as a full meal.  While I love haricots verts with meatloaf or pot roast, when I want a comforting, easy dinner, I go directly to my dad's roots.
So, if you want a ridiculously easy, country style, family supper, try your beans the country way.

County Style Green Beans
1 ham hock, 1-1.5 lbs
small potatoes
4 cans green beans
1-1/2 c. water

Add the ham hock to a crock pot.  Mine was frozen.  That was how I put it in, because I am lazy.  It was just fine.
I found the most beautiful fingerling potatoes at Sam's Club, but you could use red potatoes or mini Yukon gold.  I prefer small potatoes that you don't have to peel and chop.  One, because they don't get mealy then and two, because I am lazy.  Duh. 
Rinse the potatoes and add to the pot with the hock.
In a perfect world it would be July and I would have fresh picked green beans from the garden.  Since it is not a perfect world, we must turn to the trust canned bean.  I have tried frozen beans, but they tend to fall apart.
Drain and rinse the beans and add on top of the potatoes and hock. 
Be sure to add the ingredients in the order I say.  I know what I am doing and there is a method to my madness... usually.  Potatoes are the hardest to cook so they need to be on the bottom where they can get the most heat.  The ham hock needs to be in the middle of everything so it can flavor it all. 
Add the water, sprinkle on some pepper (no salt, the ham is salty enough) and pop on the lid. 
Cook on high for 4-5 hours.
Once the time is up, pull out the ham hock and shred up the meat, throwing away the fat and bone.
Gently stir the ham into the beans and potatoes.  The key to keeping the beans together is not over-stirring.  Put the lid back on and keep warm until it is time to eat.

I love hot corn muffins on the side.  Drool...