As much as I love chicken and dumplings, beef stew, turkey sandwiches....for me there's nothing as comforting as good ole southern fare. It makes me feel connected to my family. To the basics of life and convictions of what's what. Some people call this "soul food". And for good reason. It's not just food that tastes wonderful....but it reaches into your soul and touches you in a deep way.
Now I grew up in California. I've never actually lived in the south but from the time I was a baby, I have spent a good share of summers and holidays there visiting family. Loving every minute and enjoying the food. I remember sitting with my grandmother in the living room after my bath, "poppin' peas" that we'd gathered from the garden that mornin. It wasn't fun....but it was something we did. It had to be done, after all, and someone had to do it. So grandmother and I (and who ever else happened to be by) would sit there in front of the TV and work them beans.
It was the time that we spent together that makes this memory special to me. There was meaning in our task. We were preparing food for freezing, canning, cooking. And we were just "chillin" together, in a way. An old fashioned, lost art sort of way.
So, the other night, Sir Sportsalot requested fried chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner. I decided to go all out and included these green beans on the menu.
When I cook, I enjoy having the TV on in the background. I was flippin' through the channels and what do I see on Comedy Network? Blue Collar TV....OMG....how perfect is that?!! I just love those guys!
So there I was....cooking my southern dinner, listening to them southern boys makin fun of themselves.
My idea of a perfect evening in the kitchen.
(Don't look too closely at this picture. I realized just as I was about to open the package of bacon that what I had was maple flavored bacon. damn it. I ended up getting the ham hocks out)
Southern Green Beans
1 lb green beans, washed
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 lb or so of some sort of cured pork: bacon, salt pork, ham hocks
Pepper to taste (lots!)
To prepare the beans, you want to remove the ends and break (or cut) the beans into about 1" lengths.
In a large pot, saute your pork for a few minutes to release some of the fat (don't need to fully cook it. It's there just for flavor. You're not gonna eat it)
Toss in the onions and saute until just tender. Add your beans, and cover with water. Lots of water cuz they're gonna simmer for a while. Sprinkle a good teaspoon of pepper in the pot and bring just to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 - 45 minutes or until the beans are good and cooked. Not crisp tender....but soft! During the cooking time you may need to add another cup or two of water.
Remove pork and discard....(thanks for coming....you guys were wonderful)
Season as needed....most likely will not need much if any salt with all that salty, fatty pork.
Drain and serve
And there you have it....a wonderful bowl of green beans.
I know there's probably very little if any nutritional value left in them. I mean, the poor things are cooked to death. But they're good. For the soul.
I'm thinkin', once in a while, our soul needs food too.
Did I mention that this is one of those recipes where the amount is "just enough" and the cooking time is "'till it's done"? It's a lost art I tell ya!