Uncle Williams Folkloric Bean

You just never know when Uncle William (of Atlas Mountain fame) will stop by, he's become an occasional apparition around here. We have no idea why he and his camel Mr. Thirsty were dress up in tuxedos but we surmise it had to do with the 400th Annual Two Humps Desert Oasis Conference. Mr. Thirsty was sitting on a lounge chair next to the pool and Uncle William was on the porch smoking his hooka. He told me of a dish he enjoyed while sitting around a fire spinning tales in southern Spain with some old friends, telling each other camel jokes, (Mr. Thirsty was not amused).

He said this isn't exactly a recipe. It lies somewhere between our modern need for measurement and a folkloric suggestion on how to cook dried beans. Pots of beans like these have simmered over fires, on stoves, and in ovens for generations; seasoned with whatever was available locally and flavored with a love of sharing. They're comfort food at its best. For that reason, try to use real products such as chicken broth that actually tastes like chicken broth and honest-to-god ham, not a ham product, what in hades is ham product anyway!?!


1 lb. of dried beans, half black and half red for color.
A medium-sized sweet onion-kind of baseball-sized.
3 cloves of fresh garlic.
Two seeded serrano chiles.
A good sized smoked ham hock, ham bone or a chunk of ham butt.
A 32 oz. box of organic free-range chicken broth.
salt and pepper to taste


Place the dried beans in a large pot or bowl. Cover well with cold. Let sit overnight. Drain the beans and pick through by hand, looking for the occasional stone that sometimes lurks within.
Place beans in a heavy bottomed dutch oven or slow cooker.
Medium chop up a medium-sized sweet onion.
Mince or press garlic.
Add to beans and onion and stir.
Mince the fresh seeded serrano chile, add to mixture, stir.
Add the smoked ham hock, ham bone or the chunk of ham butt to pot.
Add the organic free-range chicken broth.
Add extra water to cover [ about an inch above the beans].
Bring to a boil, lower heat to a very gentle simmer, cook uncovered for at least a few hours, stirring occasionally. If using a slow cooker, cook on low heat for about 4 hours.
When beans have softened and "gravy" has formed, check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.
Serve over corn bread or seasoned rice. Use warm tortillas to scoop or sop.




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