Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ham and Green Beans

Mieke's Ham and Green Beans

The Christmas ham is naught but a sweet memory by this time. The sticky glaze has long ago painstakingly been scrubbed from the corners of the roasting pan, you've eaten your last ham casserole and used up the last of the little pieces of pink lurking in the bottom of the ziplock bag....all that's left is that big old bone.  Just throw it out and the ham is history, right?  WRONG!  The best part of the life of a Christmas ham  is about to begin. 

My Mom always used up the hambone in a dish we simply called Ham and Green Beans.  It is a simple dish.  Ham, celery, onions and potatoes.  Almost a soup, almost a stew.  Good old-fashioned down home comfort food.  Simple or not, it has stood the test of time as my own family still looks forward to a good meal of Ham and Green Beans.  Of course, I've changed it over the years, not much, but a little. 

When we lived in Maryland, I first started using the magical spice blend called Herbes de Provence (I love to use the French name instead of Herbs of Provence...makes it sound so fancy!).  There is something about the combination of rosemary, thyme, lavender (yes, lavender!), basil, savory and fennel that turns the ordinary into extraordinary.  And so it is with Ham and Green Beans.

While we were just visiting in Michigan, Mieke made a big pot of it for her family from the last vestiges of their own Christmas ham.  Keep in mind that two of the three grandkids are very picky eaters.  Wouldn't you know, even the fussiest eater loves it!  

It does my heart good to see the family recipes still being carried forward.  It would absolutely make my Mom happy to know one of her own recipes is still being enjoyed today.  

Here's the recipe...maybe your family will like it, too.  If nothing else, it will make that ham AND your food dollar stretch just a little further.  Not a bad idea for the New Year, is it? 

Ham and Green Beans

  • 1 ham bone, with lots of ham on it
  • 1 pound frozen green beans, or 1 pound of fresh (use more if you wish...I like MORE!)
  • 4 stalks celery, WITH leaves, or more to taste
  • 3 onions, cut in 1/2" strips
  • 3 pounds potatoes, cut into chunks (leave the skin on....lots of iron there!)
  • Herbes de Provence, to taste, maybe 4 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned salt, Janes Crazy Salt, of course,or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup garlic, dried, slivered - get in Oriental market (if you can't find isn't easy...use granualated garlic or garlic powder)

Put ham and bone in large soup pot, add celery, garlic, onion and cover all with water.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  

Add rest of ingredients except potatoes, adding more water, if necessary.  

Cook another hour or so and take ham and bone out of pot.  Remove all ham and return to pot, discarding bone.  Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender.  

Adjust seasonings and serve.

NOTE:  All you need to make this a complete meal is a good crusty loaf of bread!

P. S.  This isn't the ONLY dish we make with a hambone, of course.  In fact, tomorrow our own hambone is going to good use in Black Bean Soup.  Sometimes I make a good, hearty Navy Bean Soup, too.  You can bet those recipes will be showing up here.  Soon.
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