This post was originally published on June 6, 2014. It has been updated and republished for readers’ enjoyment.
I shouldn’t write this post. I know I shouldn’t. Before I write even one word, I know I’m going to be blasted. The green bean patrol is going to be all over me.
I know that I’m supposed to like my green beans just blanched. All bright green and crispy and crunchy. But I just don’t. I don’t. They taste like grass to me.
I like my beans the way I grew up eating them. Nice and tender and richly flavored with smoky pork. So there.
Besides, old-fashioned southern cooking gets enough bad press without me adding to it. I shouldn’t write this post. Sigh.
But I’m doing it anyway! Just think of it as something interesting to learn about whether you’d ever try it or not :-)
The most important thing about making Old Fashioned Southern Green Beans is to find a really good ham hock. You want a nice meaty one. Some of the ones I see in the store these days are all skin and bones. Leave those in the case and look for a big, plump one. Now put your lovely, smoky ham hock in a large, deep pot with just enough water to cover it. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
What you’re making is a smoky, pork flavored broth. That’s what you’ll use to cook your beans in and all that lovely flavor will go right into the beans themselves. Delicious!
While the ham hock simmers, prepare the green beans. I remove the “tips and tails” and just snap them into pieces. You can leave them whole if you prefer. If you have string beans, be sure to remove the strings as well.
Add the prepped beans to the pot. Bring the contents to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
Cover and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender but not mushy. Start checking them after about 50 minutes.
When they’re nice and tender and olive colored (no, they will not stay bright green), remove the ham hock to a plate and allow it to cool for a few minutes until you can handle it easily. Remove and shred the meat from the ham hock, discarding the skin, fat, and bone. Add the shredded meat back to the pot and stir it into the beans.
This is simplest method that I know for making old fashioned green beans. People add all sorts of other things to their beans like onions, tomatoes, hot pepper, parsley, and I do too occasionally, but I also appreciate just the simply beautiful smoky flavor of this method. Hope you’ll give it a try!
- 1 lb. meaty, smoked ham hock
- 3 lb. green beans, washed, trimmed and cut in 2” pieces
- 2 tsp. salt
- Place the ham hock in a large pot with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- While the ham hock simmers, prepare the green beans. I remove the “tips and tails” and snap them into pieces. You can leave them whole if you prefer.
- Add the beans and salt to the pot. Bring the contents to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.
- Cover and cook for 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Remove the ham hock to a plate and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Remove and shred the meat from the ham hock, discarding the skin and bone. Add the shredded meat back to the pot and stir it into the beans.
More recipes for southern style green beans:
- Fresh String Beans with Mushrooms from Drick’s Rambling Cafe
- Southern Green Beans from Divas Can Cook
- Southern Green Beans from Taste of Southern
- Southern Style Green Beans from South Your Mouth
- Southern Style Green Beans from Food Wishes