This recipe for Ham Hocks and White Beans may take a couple of days, but it is worth the time and effort. Chilling the stock overnight allows you to skim the fat. Similarly, refrigerating the ham hocks makes separating the meat from the fat easier. Soak the beans overnight while the stock and hocks chill. Serve with rice for an authentic Louisiana-style meal.
1 medium onion
3 whole cloves
10 cup water
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
6 smoked ham hocks (about 3 pounds)
4 bay leaves
3 cups coarsely chopped leek greens
3 garlic cloves
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 thyme sprig
1 1/2 cups dried Great Northern or other small white beans
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
6 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped leek bottoms
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
How to Make It
To prepare ham hocks, stud onion with cloves. Place onion, water, and next 8 ingredients (water through thyme sprig) in a stockpot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 3 hours. Remove hocks from stock. Strain stock through a sieve into a large bowl; discard solids. Cool stock to room temperature. Cover and chill hocks and stock separately 8 hours or overnight. Remove meat from bones; finely chop. Discard bones, skin, and fat. Skim solidified fat from surface of stock; discard fat. Reserve 4 cups stock.
To prepare beans, sort and wash beans; place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water to 2 inches above beans. Cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight. Drain.
Combine beans and reserved stock in a Dutch oven. Add chopped thyme, fennel seeds, marjoram, and tomato; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are tender.
While beans simmer, heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leek bottoms, chopped onion, 1 cup carrot, 1/2 cup celery, and 2 garlic cloves; cover. Cook 10 minutes; stir occasionally. Add vegetable mixture, ham, ground pepper, and salt to bean mixture.
To prepare garnish, combine parsley, basil, and green onions; sprinkle over bean mixture.
Note that the beans should be moist, but not soupy.
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