Grandma Rua’s Ham N’ Beans

My grandmother, Rua, made the best ham and beans. She used smoked hocks, onion and Great Northern Beans. After soaking the beans overnight and picking them over, she’d put these three ingredients in a stock pot and cover with water. She’d get it up to a good simmer and let it simmer all day. At the end of a cold fall day, a hot bowl of ham and beans was just the way to settle in at Grandma Rua’s table. Usually we’d have cornbread or hot rolls and a salad to make it a full meal.

Grandma always liked to add splash of white vinegar to her bowl, but the rest of us typically ate it as it was. As I’ve grown older, I find I enjoy a quick grate of parmesan cheese in my bowl. My husband likes it Grandma’s way, with a splash of vinegar. As with all these recipes, do what you like to make it your own.

I love this soup with a salad, or a nice grilled cheese. Cornbread with honey-butter is a great accompaniment. A platter of crudites or pickled vegetables pairs well too.

Grandma Rua’s Ham N’ Beans

Ham N Bean Soup
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 8 hrs
Soaking Time 12 hrs
Total Time 20 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8

Equipment

  • 7-8 qt Stock Pot or Slow Cooker

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb Great Northern Beans, Dry
  • 3 lbs Smoked Pork Hocks or Shanks, or a combo of both Can substitute bone-in ham.
  • 2-3 cups Onion, small dice
  • 8 cups Water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Pick-over beans, then soak in cold water for 12 hours, or overnight.
  • After soaking, remove any floating skins or discolored beans.
  • Place soaked beans, diced onions and smoked pork hocks and/or shanks in a large stock pot or slow cooker.
  • Add 8 cups of water to crock pot, will mostly cover the smoked pork and beans, onions will float initially.
  • If using a stock pot, bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 8 hours or until beans are soft and liquid is reduced. if using a crock pot, cook on high for 2 hours and then reduce to low and cook for 8-10 hours until beans are soft and liquid is reduced.
  • Remove hocks or shanks from the soup and allow them to cool until comfortable to handle. Keep soup warm.
  • Remove meat from the bones, discarding excess fat, bones and rind from the meat. Return meat pieces to the soup and allow it to reheat.
  • Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. This soup rarely needs salt, as the smoked meat has enough salt, so make sure to taste before adjusting the seasoning.

Notes

  1. Smoked pork hocks and shanks can be found near smoked ham in most grocery stores.  I prefer a combination as shanks are meatier, but the hocks have more fat and flavor.  Alternatively, smoked bone-in ham can be substituted.
  2. If using a crock pot, it may take longer to cook the beans until they are fully softened.
  3. I typically use the crock pot on days I have to work, and start the soup while I am getting ready for work, and cook it on high until I leave for the office.  Then I turn it down to low and let it go all day.  Typically 10 hours.  
  4. Salad, cornbread, fresh rolls or a crudite platter are all great accompaniments for this dish.  Alternatively, a grilled cheese is a wonderful pairing. 
  5. A splash of vinegar to the finished soup (about a teaspoon) brings a nice acid and brightness to the soup.
  6. A grating of parmesan compliments the white beans and results in a more Italian style bean dish. 
Keyword beans, ham, ham and bean soup, ham hocks, ham shank, onion, soup

Smoked Corned Beef

We ran out of corned beef for sandwiches, and are still in the mood for this springtime treat. I wanted to change it up a bit though, so decided I would give it try on my smoker. I chose a brisket cut over the round cut, which is made for smoking and slow cooking to break down the connective tissues. It will slice nicely for sandwiches as leftovers.

I am busy outside in the garden and barn this time of year. Putting something on to slow cook in the smoker and checking on it here and there is an easy way to have dinner cook while you get your spring time chores done. When the evenings turn chilly in the spring, coming in from the cold to a warm meal just ready to serve is very welcome.

For this version I decided not to add any sweetness. I am using juniper berries in the rub, as this ingredient is part of the traditional corned beef brining. Plus, how often do you really get to use juniper berries in a recipe?

Gather together all the ingredients and let’s get smokin’!

Smoked Corned Beef

Course Main Course
Cuisine BBQ
Servings 6 servings

Equipment

  • Pellet or Electric Smoker
  • Or BBQ Grill set up for indirect heat
  • Mortar and Pestal

Ingredients
  

  • 2-3 pound Corned Beef Brisket
  • 2 tbsp Whole Grain Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tbsp Whole Juniper Berries
  • 1 tbsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 1 large Onion, cut into 1/8 pieces
  • 1 pint Dark Beer (Porter or Guiness)

Instructions
 

  • Assemble all ingredients.
  • Preheat smoker to 275 degrees.
  • Trim excess fat off corned beef.
  • In a mortar and pestal, grind the whole juniper berries into almost a paste like consistency. Add peppercorns and continue to grind.
  • Mix whole grain mustard into the ground spices.
  • Coat corned beef with mustard and spice paste on both sides.
  • Place on smoker grate, and smoke for 3 hours with the lid closed. If using a regular BBQ grill, use an indirect heat method and place the meat on the side without flames or coals.
  • After 3 hours, place the corned beef in a shallow aluminum pan, add beer and surround with onion. The beer will help draw the excess salt out fo the corned beef and bring in complimentary flavors.
  • Cover the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and put the corned beef back in the smoker for another 3 hours.
  • Remove from the smoker and rest for 15-30 minutes before slicing.
  • Carve against the grain and serve.
Keyword BBQ, Corned Beef, Smoked

Notes: During the last three hours of cooking you can also cook a head of cabbage in the smoker. Refer to recipehttps://betwixtandcuisine.com/2019/03/23/smoked-cabbage-with-siracha/ for this option.

Smoked Cabbage with Siracha

There is a lovely person in my life who loves Siracha. Her love of siracha inspired me to try smoked cabbage with a little kick.

You can definitely add more siracha than I did here to ratchet it up even further. The smokey, buttery, garlic flavors are punctuated with some lively heat.

Ingredients

1 Head of Green Cabbage
4 - 6 Tablespoons of Butter, sliced into cubes while cold
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce or Tamari
1 Tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 Cup Marsala Wine
1 - 3 Tablespoons of Siracha, to taste plus more for serving


Instructions

  1. Heat a smoker to 275-300 degrees.
  2. Core your cabbage with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut through the cabbage. Make a little well in the center. Reserve the core.
  3. Using a 18 inch length of aluminum foil, roll it up like tube and then shape it into a ring. This will help the cabbage balance while you prep it and on the grill
  4. Take another 18 inch lenght of aluminum foil, or one that will wrap the entire head of cabbage. Place the cabbage in the center and bring the foil up about 1/2 way. Initially, you will not wrap the whole head to allow the smoke to flavor the cabbage, and the extra juices to collect in the foil. Balance the wrapped cabbage on the foil ring.
  5. Fill the center well with cubed butter.
  6. Add garlic cloves and follow with the remaining ingredients.
  7. Insert reserved core to pack ingredients in.
  8. Place on smoker and smoke for 1.5 hours. Then close the foil to wrap the entire head and cook for another 1.5 to 2 hours.
  9. Remove from smoker and rest for 15 minutes.
  10. Slice cabbage and serve with reserved juices poured over and additional siracha on the side for those who love it.