Braised Green Beans
& all the love in my heart
I love to cook for the people I love the most. Ryan is pretty much constantly vying for first place. Meals I’ve cooked for him include (but are not limited to) soups and stews, homemade pasta, meatballs, sausage, lasagna. Many roasted chickens, fried chickens, and grilled chickens, homemade tortillas, sandwiches, burritos. All manners of potatoes. Cookies, cakes, and pies. Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas ham, a lamb leg over an open fire.. I tell you this not to toot my own horn or make myself out to be an incredible partner. I tell you this because the recipe I am sharing is, by Ryan's standards, “the best thing I've ever made".
This is not the first time he has said this about a dish. It’s not even the second time, or the third time. His sentiments air on the side of romantic and florid. I sometimes take his sweetness with a grain of salt (or in my case, a healthy pinch). Ryan’s casual extravagance is one of my favorite things about him. It meets me right where I am. His favorite authors and poets are innumerable. The emotion in his stories is enrapturing. Every song is his favorite song. I have made the "best thing I've ever made'' seven times, every month of our relationship. This dish might be the best of the best. It's been weeks since this meal and Ryan still mentions it in passing nostalgia, so I will share it with you. And I will say, it is damn good.
This dish doesn't necessarily fall in the category of soup. It’s more fitting as a side or perhaps atop rice or egg noodles. I lovingly refer to these not-necessarily-soup dishes as "Soup Food.” This is a perfect representation of a Soup Food. It can be a side or a main. My favorite way to have it is for breakfast with a poached egg.
SMOKY BRAISED GREEN BEANS
1 large onion, diced
8 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 smoked ham shank
2 smoked ham hocks
6 - 8 cups turkey stock
2 lb. potatoes, quartered
2 lb. green beans trimmed and halved
In a medium heat Dutch oven, heat a few tablespoons of neutral oil and add the onions and garlic. Once the onions begin to soften, add the dried spices. Bloom the spices in the oil and allium mixture for a few minutes until they begin to smell very fragrant. Add the smoked ham and broth. Place the lid on and simmer on medium - low for an hour, or until the meat easily separates from the bones. Remove the ham and set aside. Add potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the ham from the bones of the shank and hock, discarding any fat and cartilage and chop into spoon-sized-pieces. Add green beans and ham and simmer, lid off, for 15 minutes or until the potatoes and green beans are very tender. Using a wooden spoon, smash some of the potatoes against the sides of the pot then stir them in to achieve a thicker stew. Salt to taste. Finish with apple cider vinegar, more red pepper flakes, and fresh dill or parsley.
You can simmer the ham parts in a crockpot on low overnight or up to eight hours.
Chicken stock is a suitable substitute, but turkey stock is highly recommended.
On Sunday February 11 from 11:00am until 4:00pm, I will be selling chili and gumbo as well as garnishes and cornbread at 4613 Liberty Avenue for the Souper Bowl. If you would like to place a pre-order for the event, you may do so here.
On Valentine’s Day, Wednesday February 14, I will be at The Farmer’s Daughter Flowers at 502 East Ohio Street selling red sauce and meatballs. If you would like to place a pre-order for Valentine’s Day, you may do so here. You may also pre-order Valentine’s Day flowers at their website.
I hope this issue finds you well. January has been a bit of a blur for me thus far but I feel like I’m working hard. Keeping my head down makes me feel good. If you’re around Bloomfield for lunch, come by and I’ll make you a hot soup & grilled cheese sandwich every Wednesday and Friday from 11:00am until 2:00pm for the foreseeable future.
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