Pork and beans come together in cultures across the world, but in this ham hock soup, distinctly Southern butter beans and the South’s revered pig merge dreamily together in decidedly Southern elegance that costs only pennies to make.
Adapted from "Southern Farmers Market Cookbook" by Holly Herrick.
For authenticity, Eric recommends using Cajun andouille, a pork-based sausage that is fatty and heavily smoked but not heavily spiced. LaPlace, La., has declared itself the andouille capital, hosting an annual festival every October, but when Eric returns to his family’s home in Los Angeles to host their annual gumbo gathering, he frequents Pete’s Louisiana Style Hot Links in Crenshaw. Says Eric, "We have to buy extra to make sure that there is enough left after everybody snacks on them." If none are available, any smoked pork sausage will work.
Down in New Orleans, everyone claims to have a gumbo recipe that’s "the best ever." Well, I’ve got mine, too. Here it is. I learned the technique for making chicken gumbo 25 years ago, while working at K-Paul's in the French Quarter. The addition of the ham hock is something I came up with when we opened Town Hall. It adds body, richness, and a slightly smoky flavor. (If you can’t find a ham hock, just double the amount of andouille sausage.) Making gumbo is an example of what I call a long-term relationship recipe. Not only do you have to find your way with it over time, but, let’s face it, making gumbo takes a while. So think of this dish as an opportunity to cook for a group of your friends and get everyone involved. Simply put, gumbo is the perfect party dish. If you are on your own, gumbo, like most soups and stews, matures with time, so preparing it early in the morning or even a day in advance will only make it better.
A good gumbo demands a good roux, and making a good roux is an art. First, it helps to have the right tools. For the amount of roux this recipe requires, you need a cast-iron pan eight to 10 inches in diameter. That’s the perfect size for the amount of flour and oil you are going to use. Also, let’s be honest here: When you make a roux, you need to be careful. If it gets on your skin, it is going to burn. They don’t call it Cajun napalm for nothing.
Click here to see the Town Hall Spice Mixture Recipe.
Click here to see the Celebrate Mardi Gras at Home story.
I grew up in a household inspired by southern cooking. I made these one night for my husband and served them with cornbread and collard greens. It takes a while to cook, but you don't have to stand at the stove the entire time.
Note: To speed up cooking of beans and reduce the gas beans produce, soak beans in cold water overnight or for three hours during the day. You can also use the ham hocks as your meat side dish. However, ham hocks are a high-fat food.
This is one of the most simple meals that I make I put it all the ingredients in the crockpot and later I have a very simple yet filling meal for my family.I use pink beans but you could use whatever you want. I serve mine with rice and a bit of cheese on top. Enjoy! *Update* I realized after two people reviewed my recipe and after I went to my local butcher that the ham hocks I get are rather large (I'm going to guess about as big as a medium eggplant if not larger). Which is why my recipe only lists one. You may want to change that to 2 or more depending on the actual size of your ham hocks.