If you're looking for a recipe that screams yummy Fall goodness and yet is super economical and easy to prepare then look no further. This recipe for white beans and ham is one of my family's all-time favorites and it was passed down from my husband's grandmother, Meme. In true Meme style this is delicious and easy on the pocketbook, but best of all, it is homey and heartwarming just like her Old Fashioned Chicken and Rice Recipe. My kids have eaten this almost since they were old enough to have solid food and since it's jam-packed with veggies it's my go-to meal when I want to feed them something hearty and healthy.
This recipe requires you to soak the white beans overnight, so be sure you factor that into your preparations. Also, for the best outcome, I highly recommend using a cast-iron pot like this one, but it isn't essential, it should taste great regardless.
1 lb of White Beans - rinsed and sorted
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb of ham steak, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
Cornbread (with butter)
Soak the beans overnight according to the package instructions. Most packages have a quick soak option, while that option works, I find that soaking the beans overnight produces the best results. Approximately an1.5-2 hours before you want to serve your meal, drain the beans. Put them in a pot and add the onions, ham, and salt and pepper. The ham is cured so it will impart saltiness into the dish so be mindful of that when adding your salt. I typically use about a teaspoon of salt and the same amount of black pepper. If you have a ham hock it will add more flavor but it's not necessary. Cover everything with water. The water should go about one inch over the top of the beans, approximately 6 cups.
Most packages of beans also come with a flavor packet. I do not use that packet because the ham does more than enough to flavor the beans without adding the extra sodium from the packet.
Note: You'll need to watch the water level throughout the cooking process. If the water gets too low the beans will not cook evenly. Just add more water as needed throughout to ensure that everything cooks evenly.
Cook on medium to high heat until your white beans and ham have come to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer. Cover the pot but leave a small opening so that the beans can breathe.
Cook for 1.5-2 hours, or until the beans are tender. Remember to continually stir and check the water level throughout the cooking process.
I like to serve this with cornbread because the sweetness of the bread pairs perfectly with the homey, saltiness of the white beans and ham. I just crumble my cornbread right on top so that I get a little in each bite. Another great bonus is that this dish reheats well for leftovers too.
All in all, a fully prepared white beans and ham recipe typically costs less than $10 to make and should easily feed a family of four with leftovers. So, if you're looking for an easy recipe that is light on your wallet then you need to give this a try.
I'm always on the lookout for cheap and delicious ways to feed the family and I'd love to know what you have cooking in your kitchen. Please share your favorite, economical recipe in the comments below.
If you're looking for some other meal ideas check out all my other recipes here.