Smoked ham hocks and baby lima beans serve up a delicious hearty meal or just a side dish to a larger one. In this version, the beans have a creamy taste and that’s without cream being added. The smoky flavor of the ham hocks is enhanced with dried crushed chipotle pepper. It also adds just a touch of heat. This version is very thick. I like serving this healthy meal with chopped sweet onions and tomatoes.
There isn’t a lot of meat on cut smoked ham hocks. It’s used primarily for seasoning the legumes of which it does a fabulous job. After a long simmer of the ham hocks, the beans are added. Skin and remaining fat are removed at the end of the cooking.
Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 3 hours Total time 3 hours, 10 minutes
2 pounds cut smoked ham hocks, bone in and skin on
4 medium to large garlic cloves
5-6 cups of water
16 ounces baby lima beans, pre-soaked and water drained
1 teaspoon dried crushed chipotle peppers
Pour beans in a large bowl filled with water and set aside to pre-soak. (See Cook’s Note on soaking beans.) In a 4-5 quart heavy bottom pot, add smoked ham hocks, garlic, and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to allow the water to come to a simmer for 2 hours. Mid-way through the cooking, turn over the ham hocks.
Drain and rinse baby lima beans. Pour the beans in with the ham hocks. Add chipotle peppers and gently stir. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, again lower the heat to bring ham and beans to a simmer. Cover and cook for one hour.
Pre-soaking the beans reduces cook time but it also removes excess sugar which can aid in digestion. There are two methods for soaking the beans. The first is to soak them in water overnight. The quick method is to cook the beans in boiling water for about 5 minutes, then set aside for an hour. Rinse the beans before adding to the ham hocks.
Salt brings out the flavor in meats in the cooking process. If, however, you are on a salt-free diet, there are other seasonings that can be used. For example, I sometimes use dried cumin in beans or simply add a whole onion. Other seasonings are powdered onions and paprika. But I strongly suggest not to substitute the chipotle peppers. These are smoke-dried ripe chile peppers.
In this recipe version, the juice is very, very thick which is what I like. If you prefer more juice, however, add at least one more cup of water when cooking the smoked ham hocks.