Courtesy of C. King:
After a long wet Pacific Northwest day, that was neither miserable nor romantic, I was hungry. So I ordered take-out (Teriyaki, I think), and on my way to pick it up, it hit me. Or maybe it was an all-day craving that I stopped ignoring. In any case, beans came to mind. They’re not exciting on the surface, I know. And they have that sad association with flatulence. But it was a craving, nonetheless. Because beans are cheap, easy to flavor-up, and take all day to cook, they seemed perfect for the next rainy day. We get a lot of rainy days, so I took a chance and stopped at the store on my way home from Teriyaki, which paled in comparison even then. After perusing the great variety of dried legumes, I went with black beans. I was raised eating a lot of navy and pinto beans, but I fell in love with black beans when I lived in the Southwest. As I said before, you can flavor-up beans in a lot of ways, but at the time of flavor choosing, nothing went better with the rain than pork hocks. That’s right, pork hocks. There’s a bit of mystery, in my mind, around the hock and what it is, but I decided a long time ago to let some things be in the food department. So anyway, I scooped up a couple of those and was on my way.
When I got home, I intended to soak my beans like a thoughtful cook, but I forgot. So in the morning before work, I used the quick method (you know, boil for 2 minutes, give a quick, cool, rinse). Part of the mysteriousness of the pork hock is that you don’t need any other ingredient except a little salt and pepper. Like I said, let it be. I added enough water to cover the beans and then about 2 cups more. Then I turned on the slow cooker and patted myself on the back (I didn’t really).
After we came home, we added a little of this and that to accompany the beans and here’s what we came up with: (Oh and it was the truth!!)
Approx 16 oz. dried black beans
16 oz. reduced sodium chicken stock
2 ham hocks
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 diced sweet onion
1/2 C diced celery
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
Rinse & soak beans. Add beans, ham hocks, black pepper, chicken stock and enough water to cover beans + 2 Cups to slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for approx 5 hours or until beans are tender. Serve with rice, green beans and cornbread (if you ask us).
Optional ingredients (for added flavor):
Saute onion, celery, garlic, cumin, red pepper and 1/2 C chicken and add to beans prior to cooking in the slow cooker. (adjust liquid amount accordingly)
Courtesy of L. King:
If you’re anything like me, not knowing what a Pork/Ham Hock is, is going to drive you bonkers. Here is a little Alton Brown lesson for you…
Ham Hock: a small cut of meat from the leg just above the foot. Essentially, it is the joint between the tibia/fibula and the metatarsals of the foot, where the foot was attached to the pig’s leg(1). The Ham Hock is commonly cured (smoked) and used in Southern Cooking. You will find most Ham Hocks to have very little meat and will be used in a dish solely for flavor. The hocks we used had quite a bit of meat which we kept in our bean dish.