I know what everyone’s thinking…BEANS? REALLY…BEANS? Oh yeah, baby. BEANS.
Not only are beans and rice a staple food in almost every culture due to the low cost and availability, but they’re also de-freaking-licious. As an official coonass, I’ve eaten a LOT of beans in my day and I can tell you we like our beans, no matter what kind, over a steaming pile of white rice and almost always with about half a pig in that pot in one way or another. Red beans, white beans, black eyed peas…I love them all, but my favorite bean is the LIMA. I like them fresh and green from the garden with that sweet lima flavor that screams Spring time and I love them in this recipe–slow cooked on the stove with pork sausage, ham, veggies and wine until they’re thick and creamy and packed with flavor. The recipe is cheap, easy, and will feed a truckload of hungry men. It’s a stick-to-your-ribs pot of deliciousness and here’s how you make it…
- 1 lb large dried lima beans
- Smoked sausage (about 1 1/2 pounds of your favorite variety)
- Smoked ham (here I used 10oz. of smoked, diced ham from my freezer)
- Celery (4 stalks, diced)
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 5-6 toes of garlic (chopped)
- 5-6 green onions (chopped)
- Carrots (12-16 baby carrots or 4 large regular carrots, diced)
- Bay leaves
- White wine (your favorite)
Time to soak your beans! A person with the capacity for forethought and pre-planning would soak their dried beans overnight in a big pot of cold water and when they woke up in the morning…VOILA! Their beans are ready to cook. Me? I’m an impulse beaner. I never know when my need for beans is going to strike so I usually follow the instructions on the back of the back for the “quick soak”, which entails adding your dried beans to hot water, bringing them to a rolling boil for exactly 2 minutes, removing them from the heat, and covering them for an hour. Whatever kind of beaner you are, the pre-soak is an essential step and cannot be skipped.
Your beans will start off looking something like the picture on the left, and when they’re done soaking and ready to cook, they’ll look like the photo on the right:
While your beans are soaking and plumping, get started prepping your meats and veggies!
You’ll need a large white, yellow or vidalia onion, and 5-6 green onions, diced smallish.
To a coonass girl like me, onions are a strong aphrodisiac. Rub a bit behind your ears to smell great for the ladies all day.
I used about 15 baby carrots here because that’s all I had on hand. They add sweetness and beautiful color to the dish. If you have regular, large carrots just use about 4. Whatever size you’re using, quarter the carrot before chopping so your pieces are small and will cook evenly.
You’ll need about 4 stalks of celery with the leafy ends. Those leafy ends are packed with vitamins and nutrients that you don’t want to miss out on. Just kidding. I don’t know if that’s true at all and I don’t really care (note the amount of pork I’m about to add). But they’re packed with delicious celery flavor, and that’s what you’re after. Cut these vertically up the middle, too, so they’re about the same size dice as your carrots and everything cooks at the same rate.
Now finely dice some garlic, about 5-6 toes (my brother from another mother, Pepe, is who got me started calling a clove of garlic a toe, so blame that on him).
Now that your veggies are diced and beans are pre-soaked, drain your beans and sort through them. I have no idea what you’re looking for when you “sort” your beans, but every recipe says to do this so I do it. I guess you’re looking for rocks or gold teeth or something like that. Just do it.
In a big, heavy bottomed pot, add your chopped veggies to some olive oil or bacon fat. Totally your call. I’m not here to judge.
Start sauteing those veggies in your fat of choice until they start getting a little translucent and let’s talk seasonings. Here’s what I think these beans can’t live without: kosher salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, hot sauce, and a heaping tablespoon full of brown sugar. Brown sugar??, you ask. Yeah, dummy, brown sugar. I discovered how delicious the brown sugar makes these beans after using some leftover HoneyBaked Ham instead of regular smoked ham from the store and now I’ll never go back. Don’t leave it out. It makes a difference.
Now for the star of the show…the PIG. Add your diced smoked ham and sliced smoked sausage to your cooking veggies and let the smell wash over you. Breathe in. Exhale. Breathe in again. If there’s a heaven, this is what it smells like, folks. Yummmmmm.
Now, this is going to surprise those of you that know me but I had about a 1/2 cup of white wine leftover from the other night. I know! The shame! The horror! Pour your wine in over the top of this deliciousness and simmer for a few minutes, letting the flavor soak in while the alcohol cooks out. Then to that, I added a few chicken bouillon cubes. I added bouillon cubes because all my stock was frozen and I was too lazy to defrost it. But feel free to use stock in the place of water in this recipe.
Now add your beans (sans rocks and gold teeth) back to the pot and cover with water. It’ll look like this and you’ll want to eat it but WAIT…you’ve got a while to go, my friend.
Now’s the time when you have to remember that “patience is a virtue” and “good things come to those who wait” and all that other crap. It’s worth it. I promise. Let that goodness come to a slow boil then turn it down to a low simmer. Cook uncovered for what seems like forever. This pot took me about 3 hours…the 3 longest hours of my life. You’re after a creamy consistency and you need to get there like the tortoise, slow and steady. Return to your pot every 30 minutes or so to give it a good stir, making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Turn your heat down if you experience any sticking. You’re looking for the liquid to cook out of your pot, and you’ll notice the water line will keep going down after each break between stirs. Now’s the time to taste and reseason as needed. Think you have too much water? Scoop some out. Think you need more water? Add some in. This is not rocket surgery, people, it’s a pot of beans.
The photo on your left is about an hour in to cooking. The photo on your right is your goal. See how creamy and delicious those beans look? See how much liquid has cooked down at the pot’s rim? That’s what you’re after.
You’re only next step is to make yourself some white rice, serve a steaming helping into a bowl, and pour these delicious, spicy, porky lima beans all over the top. Now you’re eating like a Cajun, baby.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!