RECIPE BY: JOE SCRIZZI
Every year Labor Day Weekend was spent at my family’s cabin in the Poconos. Nothing extravagant, just a simple cabin in the woods. I miss a lot of the things I did growing up and through my 40’s and beyond.
Since the weather was crazy hot this past weekend, I decided to stay local and hang out at my mom’s house, cooking and cleaning out some boxes in storage of my fathers. Found photographs, slides, recipe cards and more! Many memories were stirred up and we talked about the past and all the fun we had. As I sifted through some old handwritten recipes, I put aside a few to make and on Saturday. Two weeks prior, I found a ham bone on sale and vacuum sealed it and placed in freezer for a time to make Ham & Bean Stew (one of my dad’s favorite dishes). Well, that day has arrived, and my mom was excited for the final product.
I got to work shopping for the ingredients and the goal was to have it ready for dinner that night. My dad always tried to save money where he could, and he taught me ways to do the same. He was a bargain shopper at the grocery stores, haha. I’m sure he was watching over me for the deal I found, because I wasn’t really looking for them at the time. I needed great northern, or cannellini beans and I found small white beans on the discount rack (dented cans). Grabbed 3 cans at $.64 each, plus the ham bone for $1.00. The other ingredients I always have on hand. This dish came together quickly and cost roughly $5 to make 3 servings.
Once the stew was assembled, tasted it, and let it reduce to thicken. Writing about this and thinking, I need to get back in the kitchen to make another batch, because it’s “that good!” Dinnertime came, set the table, toasted some bread, and served mom and me. Next day I came over and she said, “Dad would be Proud of that stew”, she recalls the aromas and taste as he used to make. Day 2 I made Pasta and Peas, another simple dish packed with flavor. I will submit this recipe in a couple of weeks. Get ready for a series of dishes from my past that still resonate deep within me. I’ve been playing around making my own dough/noodles which I haven’t done since the early 80’s.
Well, check out the recipe below and enjoy!
Ham & Bean Stew
1 Ham hock
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp each onions & celery, minced
2 Tbsp carrot, minced
2 Tbsp garlic minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
3-15.5oz cans white beans (great northern, cannellini, small white), rinsed/drained
1 5.5oz can V-8 juice
1 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
Salt & Pepper
Cover ham hock with water, leave a little bit uncovered on top in a med stock pot. Bring to boil uncovered, reduce to med low and leave lid partially open. Simmer for 30 minutes while you prep the veggies. After 30 minutes, remove ham & bone from pot and set aside to cool before removing the meat. Strain broth, set aside. Remove meat from bone and fat, separate with fingers or shred with a knife. Set meat aside, discard bone/fat.
Sauté onions, celery, carrot, and garlic in olive oil until tender (2 mins.) in same stockpot that the ham was cooked in. Add beans, stir to incorporate. Add 2 ladles of broth, dried seasonings, shredded ham and V-8 juice. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and allow the stew to cook and reduce to bring the flavors together. Taste and add salt and pepper (if needed). If stew is too thin, mash some beans on side of pot. If too thick, add more broth to your liking.
Ladle into bowls, serve with crusty bread or perfect as is!