Pinto Beans with Ham

Frugality can be delicious!

Growing up in Ohio, most home-spun bean recipes that I ate were derived from a can, like My Aunt Pauline's Bean Salad. Although nothing says "church potluck hospitality" like a traditional bean salad (Oh, how I loved church potlucks while growing up!), it can't hold a candle to a steaming bowl of pinto beans with ham. When I moved West, I discovered the comfort that a combination of beans, broth, spices, and a cheap cut of ham can provide. Autumn is an ideal time of year to simmer a pot of this goodness all day long, and for about $5, you can create a southwestern feast!

This recipe is especially good with a dollop of my red chile. If you've purchased your roasted green chile for the year, stir in a couple of tablespoons as a treat. My kids like this recipe as-is, and ask for seconds every time.

Pinto Beans with Ham
1 lb dry pinto beans, rinsed and soaked in warm water overnight.
4 cups of Homemade Turkey Stock or store-bought broth
~1 lb smoked/cured ham hock (cut into 2" chunks if possible – ask your local butcher)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
2 T. olive oil
1 t. chile powder
1/2 t. cumin seeds
1/2 t. coriander
1 t. oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1/2 t. fennel seeds or 3" piece of kombu seaweed (it creates less gas).

Rinse the dry pinto beans, remove any debris or stones, and soak in warm water overnight, until the bean has almost doubled in size and is wrinkle-free.

In the morning, rinse pinto beans again and drain.

Place the broth, beans, and ham hock in a crock pot set on high.

Heat a frying pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent and slightly browned. Add garlic, spices and herbs and saute one minute more. Add onion mixture to Crock Pot.

Check the water level occasionally as the beans cook. Add more broth or water if you feel the need.

Remove the ham hocks from Crock Pot. Discard all bones, fat and unwanted parts of the ham. Shred or chop remaining meat and add back to the pot.

Serve in small bowls next to a grilled sandwich and a side of greens.


Flatulence Tip: Concerned about becoming too musical after eating beans? Adding items like cumin seed or fennel seed, a 2-3" piece of kombu seaweed, a slice of ginger, or bay leaves can help make beans a more socially acceptable food. Give it a try.