Southern Style Green Beans
Southern style green beans are cooked "low and slow" with a meat to "season" it (often cured, salt pork like bacon, "streak of lean," side meat, country ham, and/or a ham hock (for large pots of beans only)) until they are super tender and infused with the flavor of the meat. Different seasoning meats lend different flavors to the dish, but they are all wonderful, so I encourage you to experiment and discover which you like best.
- Cut green beans (fresh, frozen, or canned, in whatever amount you need)
- Seasoning meat (about 1 oz per pound of beans)
- Place beans in a pot. If using canned beans, be sure to drain them, first.
- Mix in pieces of seasoning meat (some people prefer to put the seasoning meat in the pot and fry it a bit before adding the beans, but I don't find this to be necessary)
- Add water to just barely cover the meat and beans mixture and cover the pot.
- Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer.
- Cook beans until they are tender and infused with flavor, stirring and checking them from time to time. For store bought canned beans, this can take as little as 30 minutes. Cook fresh beans 1-2 hours.
- Optional final step: This is something my husband has always done for his beans, but is a technique I've never seen in any online recipe. When the beans are at the desired tenderness, remove the lid of the pot and start letting the water cook off. Watch it carefully, stirring and tasting from time to time, until you are happy with the flavor. My husband likes this step not only because he prefers less water in the final product, but because he likes how it further concentrates the flavor of the seasoning meat in the beans.
- Other options: Some people put fingerling potatoes or cubed red potatoes (never use baking potatoes, as they won't stand up to this long slow cooking style) in with their beans. Other people cut up a bit of onion and sauté it in the pot with butter or the grease from cooking the seasoning meat before adding the beans for a bit of extra flavor.
David Woodley Wilkins (husband)