The best treat after playing outside all day was a pot full of slow cooking melt-in-your-mouth butter beans. I knew exactly which pot they were hiding in. My mom only cooked butter beans in the small, shiny silver pot that glimmered on our very “loved” stove. The petite, unpretentious pot came from my great-grandmother. Mother adored butter beans so much as a child that the vessel was unquestionably bestowed upon her. The taste of the velvety beans against salty ham was a perfect combination that made even the worst mosquito bites magically stop hurting. They are just that powerful.
Recipe: Inspired by Frank Stitt’s Southern Table
Serves 4 as a side
Note: If you don’t have bacon, or want to make this dish completely vegetarian, use herbs such as thyme, oregano or sage to the cooking liquid and drizzle in 2 tablespoons of fruity olive oil at the end instead of using bacon fat.
3 strips of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups of water
½ onion, quartered
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
½ pound of baby butter beans, fresh or frozen
Salt and black pepper
In a skillet on medium-high heat, render the fat and brown the bacon. Make sure the renderings measure 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Set the crisped bacon aside as a garnish.
Combine water, onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt together in a saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 15 minutes. Add the butter beans and continue simmering the beans for 15-20 minutes, or until tender.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow the beans to soak in its liquid for 10 minutes. Drain the beans from the cooking liquid, drizzle rendered bacon fat with the beans, season with cracked black pepper and garnish with reserved crispy bacon pieces.