Fall is a great time for ham and beans

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By: Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross

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Fall is a great time of the year for so many foods! A whole group of foods come to mind when the weather is cold and nippy. A must for many menus is ham and beans with cornbread.

I like working with ham that still has the bone in, it adds so much flavor. I want the ham cut up — even if it has already been roasted or baked, I will brown it in a cast iron skillet. The flavors created by browning the ham in the cast iron skillet are worth the extra time. The great flavor change happens when the sugars and salts in the ham come in contact with the cast iron. 

The next important step to ham and beans is browning the onions. I cannot make ham and beans without lots of browned onions. The number of onions is determined by size and the amount of ham and beans one is preparing. To serve 50 or so, we had about six large onions that were peeled, chopped and browned. 

Now to the beans. I grew up with navy beans, but once we were at a Texas state fair, and a local food vendor served ham and beans using brown beans. It was delicious and to me, there was more flavor, so now we use pinto beans.

The amount of beans you prepare is your decision. Add water accordingly as the beans as they cook over a wood fire.

With these four basic ingredients, soaked beans, browned ham, onions and water, you can make ham and beans. A nice garnish to add is some dried or fresh parsley, but you can also add ketchup or barbecue sauce. Serve the dish with cornbread and enjoy!

For more recipes and tips from Purdue Extension Educator Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.
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