Southern Green Beans and Country Ham
What makes this green beans recipe southern is the country ham in place of regular smoked ham, an idea I came up with after I moved to the south. The other difference between this and Pennsylvania Dutch green beans and ham, which is in the similar and related recipes links, is the lesser amount of broth. Like its northern counterpart, this southern version is very versatile in that you can use any amount of the ingredients you prefer. If you want to keep it lighter, omit the butter, but it adds a wonderful layer of flavor. I serve green beans and ham as a main dish with good rye bread and apple butter (that is the PA Dutch girl in me), but southerners often serve it as a side dish with cornbread or biscuits.
- 2 pounds green beans, cleaned, stem ends removed, and snapped
- About 1/4-pound thinly sliced country ham (see notes below)
- 1 pound regular or baby potatoes, cut as needed into about 1-1/2 inch pieces
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- Pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons butter, preferably unsalted
Place the ham slices in a large sauté pan. Add about 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until ham is tender. Remove ham from pot and cut into small pieces. Return to the pot and add the beans, potatoes and onions. Season with pepper. Add a bit more water if needed, but not too much. Bring back to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are very tender, about 1 hour. (Cooking time will depend on the size and age of the beans.) Taste the beans and add salt if needed but, since country ham is very salty, it probably will not be necessary. If there appears to be too much broth, cook on high without the cover until some of the moisture evaporates. Add butter to beans and stir until melted; replace lid and cook an additional 10 minutes. This will keep, covered, over very low heat until serving.
Notes: If you want a meatier main dish, add some regular smoked ham as more country ham might make it too salty and intense for most people.