Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ham and Pinto Beans

Comfort food. That's what comes to mind when I think of my Mother's Ham and Pinto Beans. I guess I was a strange kid, but I loved Ham and Beans and everything else Mom made, even Liver and Onions (gasp). Mom almost always fried potatoes to go with the beans, along with some biscuits or corn bread. It was a feast to me!
I still love a meal like this, so for New Years my husband I had Ham and Beans, accompanied by the Cheese and Jalapeno Corn Bread of my last post. This was great meal and it's not hard to do.
If you have not cooked dried pinto beans before, you have to soak them in water overnight, or give them a quick soak the day of cooking. The beans cooked in less than 2 hours. However, if you live in a high altitude, it will take longer for dried beans to get done. My mother used a pressure cooker for beans when we lived in Colorado, as they cooked much quicker. I used 1 pound of dried Pinto Beans this time and that made 2 meals for my husband and I. When my kids were still all home, I cooked 2 pounds of beans.
I saved the ham bone from our Christmas dinner to use in our beans. It still had a good amount of meat on it, so that made for some really tasty beans. When cooking a ham bone with beans, I don't add salt until after the beans are done, because the ham bone will add some salt flavor as it cooks. So it's better to add salt after the beans are done. I remove the bone from the pot and separate the meat from the bone and add it back to the soup. Then I season it. Here's my method.

1. You must go through the beans by hand first. To do this, pour a small amount of beans on your counter and go through them looking for any tiny pebbles, dirt or bad beans. Throw those away and scoop the good beans into a colander. Rinse beans with water. Pour beans into a soup pot, and pour water over them to cover a couple of inches. Place lid on pot and let soak overnight.

2. When ready to cook, drain off all the water from the beans. Place the ham bone in the soup pot. Pour the drained beans into the pot. Then refill the pan with enough water to cover the beans at least an inch. At this time, add a small chopped onion. Bring soup to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, covered until beans are tender. Check the beans fairly often as they really can use up the water, so you may need to add more water during cooking. So make sure the pan does not get dry and cause the beans to burn. Burned beans do not taste good! (I learned this from experience too!) Beans are done when you can easily smash them with a fork, or taste them to check tenderness. In my altitude, the beans are done in less than 2 hours.

3. Carefully remove the ham bone from the soup. When cool enough to handle, remove the ham from the bone and take off any fat that may be still attached. Add the ham pieces back to the soup. I then taste them to see how much salt and pepper to add.

4. As you can see, this is a very basic method. If you like beans with a kick, add some seeded hot peppers while cooking. My Mother sometime added a dried Bay leaf to the pot. It just depends on what you like. My husband and I love to eat our Ham and Pinto Beans with a spoonful of spicy salsa added. Delicious! If you haven't cooked dried beans before, I hope you'll give these a try. They are not only tasty, but healthy as well. Enjoy!

NOTE: IF the beans are almost done and there happens to be more liquid than you want in the pot, just remove the lid and let the broth cook down some.


  1. I grew up in the North and white beans were more common, but my mom made the same meal and I always loved it and still do. Brown or white beans, fried potatoes (nearly always) and cornbread occasionally.

  2. You're right, this seems like the ultimate comfort food. Really wonderful. I think I'm going to make the corn bread tomorrow.

  3. You have warmed me just thinking about it. I love the addition of the spicy salsa, the simplicity and the recipe that has been handed down. As we embrace the new, it always comforting to go back to our roots and find what pleased us as children.

  4. Comfort food at its best! I still have a ham bone in the freezer waiting for a good pot of beans :)

  5. Lynda, I am smiling reading this post. I do believe we were raised on the same food, My family ate so may beans soups or fried liver with onions For our New Year it has always been a leap to prepare black eye peas...To me, they were just more beans. I am adjusting my attitude to embrace the tradition.

    Your soup look awesome.


  6. Now I know what to do with the ham bone from Christmas. We love comfort food dishes like this, Lynda. This is the kind of meal we love on these cold, wet January days.

  7. oh lynda. bravo. you've taken some simple ingredients and made something so flavorful and comforting and fantastic. this is what i like. :)

  8. This is a perfect meal for to ward off the cold and damp that is so much a part of the Oregon winter. This looks and sounds delicious and filling. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  9. What a fabulous bean stew! I would love some with flatbread for the lunch.

  10. Comfort food with LOTS of fiber! :) YUM

  11. I've never made a soup with pinto beans. Usually I use my leftover ham in a pea or lentil soup. This looks like a fun alternative.

  12. This is something I grew up on, it changed often, sometimes pinto beans, sometimes navy beans, sometimes northern beans cooked with ham hocks, served over fried potatoes with corn bread along side. Super Yummy, and Satisfying on a cold night!

  13. Love it. I learned how to cook pinto's and ham as a young bride from my husbands grandmother. She always added a small pinch of nutmeg to alleviate gas which sometimes accompanies beans.:) In fact I have a pot on the stove right now.

  14. bb62964@sbcglobal.netJanuary 14, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    I need this exact recipe but for a pressure cooker.

  15. This food was my mom's best expression of love. She would serve a bowl of pinto beans with a little salt, pepper and a spoonful of vinegar. It is so good with a simple cornbread. I miss her and treasure those memories!

  16. OMG!! i finally have found someone that cooks ham and beans the way my mom did, thank you you are a life saver, if you have any other recipies, i would love to hear of them, i have one for ya(PEA CHEESE SALAD) the bomb, my family loves it,: all you need is a brick of colby cheese, black olives, bacon bits,miracle whip, a bag of frozen peas of your liking, and( green onions) first put the bag of frozen peas in microwave for how long it says on back of bag, then cut up the cheese into little squares, chop up green onions,add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix it all together, and enjoy, it makes A great side dish, let me know how you like it k? @ k:) 1-brick of colby cheese-1 can of olives- 1/2 cup bacon bits-1 green onion, 1 1/2 cup miracle whip and salt and pepper to taste:)

    1. I have lots of other recipes-feel free to browse my blog.
      I haven't had pea salad in years. Your recipe sounds like it is full of flavor-it must be good with bacon and cheese in it! thanks for stopping by!


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