I've never seen anyone else serve this "Old Family Favorite" quite this way, so I'm dropping it off for your consideration. I usually use Small White Beans, but ANY White Bean will do. Use what you have! I use a Pressure Cooker, but an ordinary, stove-top pot is perfectly fine. (I do not recommend a Slow Cooker for beans.) At least 8 hours (24 is better) peel, dice one White Onion and marinate in White Vinegar. Ham hocks (Or shanks) vary a lot. When I can get them, I prefer using meaty shanks and asking the butcher to saw them into 3/4" to 1" slices, across the bone, If that is not possible, I use smaller, whole hocks and in both cases, slash through the skin/rind in several spots. I precook the meat (under pressure) for at least 10 minutes, then use the Natural Release method. IMO it helps to extract more flavor from the bones, meat and connective tissue, but it is not absolutely essential. Reserve the cooking liquid and cut meat from the bones in large chunks. Cooking times will vary slightly; please remember that this dish is supposed to be fully-cooked, tender *whole* beans, not bean soup. The marinated diced onion (with a slotted spoon) and ketchup, if desired, are passed at table as condiments. I prefer onions alone, but many folks like a dollop of the red stuff as well. I usually serve these beans accompanied by a green salad and/or plain biscuits - or not. Any leftovers reheat well in a microwave, but freezing is not recommended. As with any bean dish, I do not add salt during cooking. I find the Bay Leaf essential and the smashed garlic is optional. Additional notes in the recipe section. Enjoy! -GC
Total Time: About 20 Minutes Total Under Pressure Active Time: About 10 Minutes Number Serves: About 4 Equipment: Pressure Cooker
Two Cups DRY White Beans, picked over and soaked for at least 8 hours. (Small White Beans are preferred, but use what you have.)
Ham Hocks, sawed/slashed, 2-4 slices of a large shank, OR about 2-3 small, whole hocks, to taste.
Two Bay Leaves
One or Two garlic (Optional)
One White Onion
Ketchup (If desired)
24-hours before service, dice the onion and cover with White Vinegar. Marinate in the fridge for 8-24 hours.
Pick and soak beans overnight (8 hours). Slice Ham Hocks' skin/rind then precook about 10+ minutes at pressure, using Natural Pressure Release method (about 20 minutes total time).
Open cooker, retain cooking liquid and cut meat from bone in large pieces. Note: This does not have to be pretty, just break up the large pieces.
Return meat, bone and connective tissue to pressure cooker.
Add soaked beans, now about double their original, dry volume.
Add additional broth or water to support an additional 8 minutes of cooking time at pressure. Note: It is NOT necessary nor desirable to cover the beans. Use only enough to support the pressure cooking process. (In my 4 quart cooker that means about one cup to 1.25 cups TOTAL fluid consisting of the reserved broth plus whatever additional fluid is necessary. Again, we're after whole beans in minimal broth, not bean soup.
Cook at pressure for about 6.5 minutes followed by the Quick Release (Cold Water) method and test for tenderness. Beans should be fully cooked, tender, and most should remain whole. If additional time is necessary, return cooker to pressure, cook for 60-90 SECONDS additional time and repeat the Quick, Cold Water Release. (When you find the correct total cooking time for your taste and cooker, make a note as you will need it next time. If cooking from UNSOAKED beans, allow about 4 minutes additional cooking time at pressure, **And Some Additional Liquid**).
When fully cooked to taste, discard Bay leaf (and garlic, if found) and serve in bowls, passing the marinated onion (with a slotted spoon) and ketchup as condiments.
Diners will require knife and fork to help break up the meat chunks and separate them from the skin, bone and any remaining connective tissue. I prefer marinated onion alone, but many seem to enjoy both.
Leftovers reheat well in a microwave.
**Note: This bean dish can easily be prepared using a covered (non-pressure) pot, but the cooking time will be substantially longer. A Slow Cooker is NOT recommended for cooking dried beans, whether soaked or not.
Cooking times are approximate, depending upon age, size and moisture content of the beans.
Precooking the ham hocks is not essential, but releases much more flavor from the connective tissue and bone than is otherwise possible without overcooking the beans. Again, this should appear to be mostly tender, whole beans, not bean soup. Enjoy! -GC