Cooking with a Leftover Hambone
Did you have ham for your Christmas dinner? I hope you kept the ham bone to cook with dried beans! We did have ham and turkey and I purposefully left more meat on the bone than I normally would because we wanted to cook some dried beans later and use the ham bone for flavor. It’s so good!
Salt & Pepper
Cooking a leftover ham bone with dried beans is an old-fashioned southern method of seasoning dried beans. Plus, you get bits of ham in the beans that are so tasty and nothing is wasted from the ham bone.
Cooking like this was an everyday thing when I was growing up. We didn’t have a leftover ham bone that frequently, but always had one at Thanksgiving or Christmastime. We would also have pork from the smokehouse or shed in the barn where hams and shoulders were salted down and seasoned for curing. The meat sliced from these shoulders and ham was always very salty and usually had to be soaked in water a while before cooking.
I was young, but I do remember “hog-killing time.” Not a pleasant thing to watch, but common during my childhood. It was a family affair. My parents, grandparents, and sometimes neighbors would get together and do the deed. I usually stayed out of sight until it was time to grind the sausage and always took a turn at the meat grinder. There would always be a lot of tasting the sausage to get the seasoning right. The hog-killing was usually done at my grandmother’s house and she would fry up a few pieces of sausage, we would all taste, and she and mother would fine-tune the seasoning.
I’m so happy that we can shop for sausage patties in the frozen section. There are some things about one’s childhood that you had just as soon not go back to!
Washing the Beans
Rinse the beans under cold water! No soap! That may seem like a given, but sometimes people ask)))
To Soak or Not to Soak
Place the beans in a deep pan (stockpot) and cover with 2-3 inches of water. Cover and let sit anywhere from 4 to 12 hours.
Soaking dried beans is not an absolute necessity, but it does reduce the cooking time to reach the desired tenderness. I did soak my Great Northern beans overnight. Of course, you could also use dried pintos, navy beans, butterbeans, or peas.
You can see in the image below how much water the dried beans absorbed.
Typically if I plan to cook a ham bone with dried beans I rinse the beans or peas and put them in water after dinner the evening before and by morning they are ready to cook. Or, just put them in water first thing in the morning, and cook them for dinner.
Cooking the Beans
Drain the soaking water off the beans and cover them with fresh. Use enough water to cover the beans and the ham bone. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down low, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender. It could take anywhere from 1-2 hours.
I usually hold off on adding any salt to the ham bone and dried beans until after they have cooked. You will get some salt from the ham and you don’t want to overdo it.
You can see I left a good bit of ham on the bone after our Christmas dinner and I did that with the thought in mind that I would use it to cook with some dried beans later. This bone just went into the frig, but sometimes I will put one in the freezer to use in making vegetable soup, turnip greens, or something like that. Here’s a link to a video I did a while back on cooking fresh turnip greens.
Speaking of overdoing, I didn’t realize I was really cooking as many dried beans as I did! The packages had changed and I didn’t notice that each package and 1 lb of beans! One package would have been plenty, but it was too late, I had soaked both packages.
So, we had beans enough to feed a neighborhood!
Once the beans are tender, you can turn them off and then season to taste with salt and pepper. If you overcook them, they will become soft and mushy. The liquid will thicken up a bit, but if you find that it did not, you can use a little flour and liquid from the beans to thicken it a bit more.
Time to Eat!
You can’t have dried beans and ham without some cornbread! Well, I guess you could, but it wouldn’t be a typical southern dish)))
Here’s my ham bone with dried beans, air-fried okra, cornbread, pickled beets, and iced tea. The remaining meat just falls off the ham bone and is very tender.
Pickled beets….maybe it’s an acquired taste, but it’s another one of those foods from my childhood that was a staple at home. Pickled beets were the only way I had ever eaten any until I was grown. And I find that it’s still the only way I like them))))
I’m chasing rabbits now, but my parents grew beets in the garden. Harvest time meant pulling up the beets and cutting off the greens. You had to be sure not to cut into the beet when cutting off the tops. Then they would go in a big black cast iron pot over a fire out in the yard and boil until the skins slipped off easily. Mother would slice them and place them in pint canning jars. She would pour boiling vinegar with spices and sugar over them and secure the lids. Flat and rings. You always had to use a brand new flat, but rings could be re-used. The jars would stay on the kitchen floor until they were all sealed. You would hear a pop pop pop as one by one the lids sealed. Any jar that didn’t seal, would go in the frig to eat first. Once the tops were sealed, you would remove the rings to be used on another canning jar.
Again, I’m so glad I can stroll down the pickle aisle and grab a jar of pickled beets and satisfy my longing for food from my past)))
More from My Kitchen
Ham Bone with Great Northern Dried Beans
- 2 lb Great Northern Beans
- Water to Cover
- 1 Leftover Ham Bone
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
- Rinse Great Northern beans under cold water using a collander.
- Place beans in deep stock pot and cover with enough water to extended above beans by 2-3 inches.Soak at least 4 to 12 hours. (Quick Soak: Rinse and sort beans in a large pot. For 1 lb. of beans (about 2 cups) add 6-8 cups hot water. Bring to a rapid boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour)Drain and rinse.
- Add ham bone to beans and enough water to cover.
- Bring to a boil and cook over low heat until beans are tender.
- Salt and pepper to taste. Season after the beans have cooked since some salt will come from the ham.Nutritional info based on uncooked beans alone and, does not include the ham bone.