Beans and Ham

Who fights for the ham bone and turkey carcass after Thanksgiving dinner?  My sister and I do.  This year she got the turkey and I got the ham.  It’s a good thing we had one of each.   I’m always astounded when I hear friends say they threw theirs away.  When I ask, “Why in the world did you do that?!”  They give one of the following reasons:

I didn’t feel like dealing with it.  My answer:  Put it in the freezer and deal with it later.

I don’t ever want to deal with it.  My answer:  Bring it to me, and I’ll deal with it.

I don’t know how to deal with it.  My answer below:

This blog is specifically about using a meaty ham bone.  I’ll deal with the turkey carcass on a future blog.

In a previous blog, I shared my recipe for beans and sausage.  When I’m using a ham hock, I make red beans or pinto beans with smoked sausage and season with red pepper for a Cajun flavor.  But, when I get the Thanksgiving ham with lots of meat still on the bone, I make beans like my Mama made beans.  No sausage in these beans as the ham is the meat and she used black pepper instead of red pepper.   BTW:  Mama’s family came to Mississippi in the 1930’s from Bowie, Arizona, and we had an aunt in Arizona who would send us new crop pintos every year.  BTW:  New crop beans are like new crop pecans.  They’re always better.

Mama always served beans and ham over a piece of white bread.  We loved this when we were kids.  Now I really like them just as a soup with a piece of cornbread.  My family likes them over rice.  They are also good spooned over crusty garlic French bread.

Remember, if you don’t want to do this right after Thanksgiving, you can freeze the ham bone or you can make your broth and freeze to pull out later.  I have one whole freezer shelf dedicated to chicken, ham, pork, and beef broth. Homemade broths always, always, always make the best soups, dressing, and gravy.

And, never fear, if you did throw away the Thanksgiving ham bone, there’s always Christmas.




  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • About 1 gallon of water to cover ham bone
  • 2 #s Dried beans
  • 2 large onions chopped
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced
  • Salt our ham bouillon
  • Black pepper

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  1. Day #1
  2. Cover ham bone with water
  3. Simmer covered for 3-4 hours
  4. Scoop out ham bone and meat with a slotted spoon or ladle. I will sometimes pour through a colander.
  5. Cool broth. A quick and safe method to cool broth is to immerse your pot in a sink full of icy water. Transfer cooled broth to a lidded container and finish chilling overnight in the refrigerator.
  6. The next day, all the fat will be congealed on top of the broth to easily scoop off and discard.
  7. You now have a fat free rich ham broth for your beans.
  8. When ham and bones are cool enough to handle, separate the meat from the bone and skin. Cut or pinch in bite size pieces and store in fridge until ready to add to cooked beans.
  9. Day #2
  10. Bring defatted broth to a simmer
  11. Sort through dry beans removing any dirt or rocks. Rinse beans.
  12. Add beans, chopped onions, and garlic and simmer covered for 3-4 hours or until beans are tender.
  13. Add ham meat and bring back to a simmer.
  14. Tweak and season with black pepper and salt or preferably ham bouillon to taste.

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