Posted by johngl
It was a little chilly over the weekend. The gusty winds were blowing brightly colored leaves around the yard and it just felt like a good time for some comfort food. Lucky for me, my beloved most glorious spousal unit, the queen of comfort food, ran across some ham hocks at the local grocer and we had plenty of beans and rice in the larder.
We’ve been greatly enjoying the uber-pricey rice cooker (Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy®) and use rice at every opportunity. This time, it was brown rice. Using an expense averaging of cost per bowl as a measure, I think we have whittled the price down to about $10/bowl and at the rate we are going, we’ll have that cooker paid off when we burn the mortgage. It’s Japan’s biggest selling brand (or so I hear) and they ought to know their rice cookers. I have faith that it will continue to cook rice until I return to dust.
Anyway, on to the beans…
These are taking a swim in nice clean water. They should continue to bathe for at least eight hours or overnight. While we are allowing the beans to soak, lets take a look at the recipe.
Red Beans and Rice with Ham Hocks (or Ham Hocks and Beans over Rice, your choice)
Recipe courtesy of The most glorious spousal unit
1 lb dried red beans
8 cups chicken stock (the real deal)
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
1 slice fresh ginger (quarter sized) finely chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
1 lb ham hocks
The most glorious one isn’t much into knives for chopping things and since she too enjoys her power tools, the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic wind up here:
Zip. Zap. You’re done.
So, just brown the veggies in a couple of tablespoons of your favorite fat. Lard is good. You can use olive oil if you are a fat weenie.
Once the veggies are browned, throw them in your bean pot and add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Then slowly add the beans (yes, please drain them first). Then toss in your hocks and the rest of the goodies. Notice there is no salt. Do NOT add salt.
Ham hocks are simply hamified pig ankles. Cured in salt then smoked (du-u-de, that’s some wicked hock), they are pretty much just minature hams. The salt in them will leach into the beanpot. It’ll be wonderful, take my word for it.
Take the hocks and drop them into the bean pot whole, turn down the heat to a simmer, put the lid on the pot, and just forget about things for a while. Read a few chapters of some pulp fiction or take a walk through the neighborhood and take notice of the fall color. Just, please, do NOT turn on your idiot box. It will ruin the whole experience.
After about an hour, warm your hands over the bean pot, take off the lid and give it a whiff. Yep, that is some good country cooking in there. Using some tongs, fish out the hocks and set them aside. Return the lid to the pot.
After the wee hams have cooled a bit, pull the meat off the bones. It should just peel right off. Take the skin, fat, and bones and put them back in the bean pot. Cover the meat with foil. You’ll be using it in a few hours. Go back to your book, take a nap, or clean the house. You have several hours to kill. Enjoy it.
Depending on the rice you’ll be using, you might want to get started with that after about two hours. Since we used the brown variety, the most glorious one fired up the old Zojirushi. It is smart enough to keep the rice nice and warm without burning it, so don’t worry. Do the rice thing.
In case you’ve forgotten, the beans have been on for about three hours. You might wish to check them. It smells just wonderful, so take a sec and enjoy it. If the beans are still a bit stiff, another hour is probably not out of the question. If you think they are done, then they probably are. I can’t really give you a time when they will be “perfectly cooked.” Cooking times vary depending upon the age of your beans, the type of beans, your altitude, and how many beers you had while reading that book. Don’t make mushy beans though. They should never be mushy.
When you think the beans are about ready, add that ham hock pig flesh back into the bean pot.
Cook this until the meat has been rewarmed or the beans become fully cooked, whichever takes longer.
Your rice will be piping hot by now…
Spoon the Ham Hocks and Beans over the steamy rice…
Dip in your fork and take a bite. Savor the goodness. Oh, that yummy…chewy…spicy goodness. Great comfort food on a chilly evening after enjoying a nice, quiet day.