How to Cook Ham Hocks & Beans

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Ham hocks add a delicious flavor to soups and main dishes.
Ham hocks add a delicious flavor to soups and main dishes. (Image: ham bone bean soup and spoon. image by James Insogna from Fotolia.com)

Ham hocks and beans are a southern dish that can be served as a main dish along with corn bread, fritters and other southern side dishes. Ham hocks are the portion of the hog's leg where the joint forms between the foot and the leg. While not an extremely meaty piece of pork, the ham hock is very flavorful and adds a delicious pork flavor to any dish. Ham hocks and beans is a protein-rich dish that can be slow-cooked or cooked on the stove top and enjoyed on a cold day.

Things You'll Need

  • Large bowl
  • 1 lb. navy beans
  • Ham hocks
  • Colander
  • 3-quart saucepan with lid
  • Serving spoon
  • 1/4 cup bacon fat
  • 8-quart saucepan
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • Wooden spoon
  • 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 8 cups chicken broth (optional)

Empty the bag of navy beans into a large bowl. Cover the beans with water and allow them to soak overnight to help remove gas-causing chemicals. Rinse the beans, thoroughly, in a colander.

Place the ham hocks in a 3-quart saucepan and add 6 cups of water. Simmer the smoked ham hocks for 1 hour with the lid partially on the top of the pot but not covering the pot completely. Use a large serving spoon to skim off foam throughout the cooking process.

Drain the smoked ham hocks in your colander and set aside four cups of the broth leftover from cooking the ham hocks.

Drain liquids from ham hocks and beans with a colander.
Drain liquids from ham hocks and beans with a colander. (Image: big colander image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com)

Melt the bacon fat in an 8-quart saucepan, over medium heat, so the bacon fat gets hot but doesn't start smoking. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic and cook until the onion is transparent. Stir in the diced tomatoes and thyme and continue to cook for 1 minute.

Onions and garlic add to the flavor of the ham hocks and beans.
Onions and garlic add to the flavor of the ham hocks and beans. (Image: onion and garlic image by Valentin Mosichev from Fotolia.com)

Place the navy beans, ham hocks and 4 cups of reserved ham hock broth in the 8-quart pot and simmer for 1 hour, until the navy beans are cooked. If you prefer to have soup, rather than a thicker version of ham hocks and beans, you can add 8 cups of chicken broth, then simmer for 1 hour.

Tips & Warnings

  • Serve ham hocks and beans with croutons on top or bread on the side.
  • Great Northern or lima beans can be used instead of navy beans.
  • Refrigerate your ham hocks and beans dish, then scrape off the solidified fat before re-heating to reduce the fat and calories in this dish.
  • Ham hocks contain a lot of gristle from the joints. Be aware that this can be a choking hazard for young children.

References

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