This is a recipe for what you would call a “hearty” meal. In other words, it needs to be eaten on those freezing, snowy, nasty days of winter. Eat it in any month without an “R” in it and you will bloat up like a month old hippo carcass rotting in the hot sun (nice subject for inclusion in a recipe). But eaten in the winter, you just become a cute puppy with a round, tubby belly and drift off to sleep for a week.
For this recipe, I pull out my old mom’s old “magic,” metal pot. This silver-colored pot made of mystery metal, is 50 plus year old with a dented lid that looks like it has been hit dozens of times with a ball peen hammer. Thing is whatever you cook in it comes out perfect every time. For a cook like me that is considered “magic.”
You start with beans and I always use pinto beans. I guess most any beans would work, but pinto beans are the beans of the west and out here where the buffalo roam they are our go-to bean. Take four cups of beans add them to your pot (magic or not). Then add water almost to the brim and then let the beans soak overnight. The four cups of beans will become about eight cups of beans. The next day, rinse the beans several times, make sure there are no rock pebbles in the beans (at least this is what my mom always did) and drain out all the water.
To this, add two entire ham hocks (bones with meat that on a pig are found where the foot attaches to the leg). The ham hocks should have a good amount of meat around the bone, not the ham hocks I have seen in some stores that are little more than a hunk of bare bone (it’s called increasing the profit margin).
Next add in a cup and a half of a smoked ham (or just ham if you want) that that you chop into small chunks.
Chop up one large onion and throw it in.
Add a cap full of liquid smoke. This comes in a small bottle and will last you for the rest of your life seeing as this is the only recipe I know of that includes it (but I’m probably wrong).
Add salt and pepper to taste. I say “to taste” because I have no idea how much salt or pepper you like or your doctor says you can have. I like to error on not adding enough as it can be added later.
I also use a potato peeler on one carrot to make thin slices to add to the pot. At one time, I heard (probably my mom again) that adding a carrot reduces the amount of gas (farts) you generate from a bowl of beans, but this is probably an old wives (GEEZER) tale.
Now fill the pot nearly to the brim with water and put it on the stove. Heat it until it starts to boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Leave the pot covered like this for several hours; just check once or twice to make sure you have plenty of water and to stir.
After several hours you can pull out the ham hocks and with a fork pull the meat from the bone. Discard the bones and put the shredded meat in the pot. Put pot back on simmer and when beans are soft it is ready to eat.
To sum up, this recipe is so simple, but so good. Feeds a lot of people at very little cost. Add corn bread to go with it and then, as I said, “curl up like a sleeping puppy.”
Ingredients for 8 to 10 servings
–4 cups Pinto beans
–2 ham hocks
–1 ½ cups of chopped ham
–1 cap of liquid smoke
–1 large onion
–1 small shredded carrot
–Salt and pepper to taste
–Enough water to cover the beans