White Beans

White Beans + Ham Shank=Delicious!

Beans Bowl

A couple months ago, a reader asked if I could post some simple bean recipes. At that time we were in the middle of a scorching heat wave, so I put any bean recipes on the back burner (figuratively of course, if the beans had actually been on the back burner they would be quite scorched by now). But now that we are starting to see the beginning of El Niño, which I believe is Spanish for “crappy weather”, it is now the perfect time to be trotting out some bean recipes. This here one is super simple but quite flavorful thanks to smoked ham shank and a couple common herbs and spices.

White Beans Ingredients

I used a ham shank that weighed in at 1-1/4 pounds. You could substitute ham hocks (is there actually a difference anyway?), or you could use an equivalent size of smoked turkey thigh.

For the beans, I highly recommend soaking in salted water. I know, it has always been a hard and fast rule that you shouldn’t add salt until after cooking or your beans will be tough. Lately, however, I have been seeing a lot of people suggest soaking the beans in salt water (brining). And by George I think they are onto something. Normally I would soak the beans overnight, but I didn’t buy them until the morning that I was going to make this. I used a pound of beans, sorted them and removed the weird ones, rinsed them, covered them with water by about 2 inches above the beans and added 2 tablespoons of salt and stirred it all together. I let them soak for about 5 hours and that was plenty of time. Rinse them again before adding to the dish.Pork Shank Onions

Heat a little oil in the pressure cooker pot, then add a ham shank and some chopped onions. Sauté, turning the ham shank occasionally until the onions are translucent and the shank is browned.

Run 5 cloves of garlic through a press, toss in the pot and sauté for another minute.

Garlic Pressed

Put some paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt (that should be plenty, remember that we already salted the beans) and a little black pepper into the onion mixture and stir for 30 seconds.

Dump in the beans, pour in 6 cups of water, then toss in the thyme and bay leaves.

Bay Leaves

Lock the top on the cooker and bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure.

Set the time for 35 minutes.

When the time is up, let the pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes then do a quick release.

Pork Shank Meat

Uncover and remove the ham shank to a plate and let it cool enough to pull the meat from the bones.

In the meantime, put the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.

When cool enough, pull the meat from the shank and stir into the beans. Continue to simmer for a couple more minutes to thicken slightly.

Beans and Herbs

Remove from heat, and ladle into bowls. Serve with biscuits or corn bread.

I like it with a little hot sauce.

White Beans
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Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 ham shank (approximately 1.25 pounds), you can also use ham hocks or smoked turkey thigh
  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 pound great northern beans, sorted, brined and rinsed
  • 1 level teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups water
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat
  2. Add the ham shank and onions to the pot
  3. Sauté, turning the ham shank occasionally, until the onions become translucent and ham shank is browned (about 5 minutes)
  4. Toss in the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute
  5. Sprinkle in the paprika, salt and and pepper and sauté for 30 seconds or so
  6. Dump in the beans
  7. Add in the water, then toss in the thyme and bay leaves
  8. Lock top on pressure cooker and bring to high pressure
  9. Set time for 35 minutes
  10. When time is up, remove pressure cooker from heat and let pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes, then do a quick release
  11. Remove the ham shank to a plate and let it cool a couple minutes
  12. Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems
  13. Put pot over medium high heat for a couple minutes while waiting for the shank to cool
  14. Pull the meat off the bones and stir into the beans
  15. Simmer for just a couple more minutes to let it thicken slightly
  16. Serve in bowls with biscuits or corn bread

 

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  1. You gave us a good laugh tonight…El Nino meaning “crappy weather”!!! Hahaha! But I’m glad to see the snow. Thanks for your hard work and info. Where did you get ham shank? I will be on the look out for them. Merry Christmas.

    • Hi PattiAnn! I got the ham shank at Whole Foods, so it wasn’t the cheapest. I have seen ham shanks and ham hocks at most of our local super markets, particularly now around the holidays.