bean + ham hock stew
This was a standby dish in my house that my mom would usually make on Sundays, so we could eat it throughout the week. She’d always use navy beans, which would get nice and creamy. And the secret to giving the beans the most deliciously deep, meaty flavor? A few ham hocks—a staple ingredient in my mom’s kitchen, like so many other working class families’, because they were cheap. Far be it for me to change a good thing, so I’ve stayed true to the original recipe. The only slight difference is that I’ve added bay leaves and a touch of herbes de Provence, an aromatic blend of dried rosemary, thyme, oregano, and lavender.
1 pound dried navy beans, rinsed and picked over
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 meaty ham hocks (about 3 pounds)
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white wine
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
In a large bowl or pot, combine beans, baking soda, and 3 quarts water and set aside to soak overnight. Drain and rinse beans.
In a large stockpot, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add ham hocks and sear until browned, 4-5 minutes a side. Remove from pan and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium and add onion and fennel. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up whatever ham hock and onion bits may have stuck to bottom of pot. Simmer until liquid has cooked off, about 2 minutes.
Add bay leaves, herbes de Provence, salt, pepper, and 2 quarts water. Return ham hocks to pot and bring water to a full boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until ham hocks are tender, about 2 hours.
Stir in beans and cook, covered, until meat is falling off bones, about 1 hour more. Transfer ham hocks to a plate to cool; continue cooking beans. Discard skin and bones from ham hocks and shred meat. Return meat to pot and cook until beans are tender and the stew has thickened, another 45-60 minutes.
Garnish each serving with fresh parsley.
BEAN & HAM HOCK STEW is excerpted from Pull Up a Chair © 2018 by Tiffani Thiessen. Photography © 2018 by Rebecca Sanabria. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
To learn more about Tiffani, check out our interview with her in the fall ’18 issue or grab a copy of her cookbook, Pull Up a Chair.