Ham Hocks & Navy Beans

James Speed Hensinger

Good anytime, but also a tradition for New Year’s Day. This is a thick, almost forkable stew. Leftovers keep forever in the freezer, and are best packed in microwavable portion size containers.

Makes 8 quarts+. Great for a banquet or a huge potluck.

4 lbs. Navy beans, dried & picked for stones and discolored beans

2 gals. Water  (Will be drained and discarded later.)


4 Bay leaves

2 T. Marjoram

1 T. Black Pepper, freshly ground

4 Garlic cloves minced

6 lbs. Smoked Ham Hocks and/or Shanks

3 lbs. Cooked Ham de-fatted and cut into half inch cubes.

Assorted left over ham bones, non-beef stock etc.

Water to cover.


2 Onions, yellow, large, chopped


OPTIONAL: 1-2 lbs, chopped green chili

Measure two large, 9 Quart+, covered stock pots to verify that they are not too tall for the oven. (Note: Only one pot will be in the oven at a time.) With some juggling, you could make this recipe with only one large stock pot.

Night before:

Place beans and water in a large covered pot in the refrigerator. (NO salt.)

Day of:

Place second batch of ingredients in a second large 9 Qt covered stock pot on a high flame.

Bring to boil.

Move pot into 275 degree oven.

Simmer meat for 2+ hours, remove from oven and remove meat to cool.

Strain stock and reserve. Discard solids.

If doing day in advance, chill stock and remove floating layer of fat.

Pick meat from bones and cut into small bite size pieces. Discard bones.

Drain soaked beans and return to the larger pot.

Add gleaned meat and ham.

Add 4 Qts. of reserved stock and water or at least enough to cover. (NO salt)

Optional: Add 1-2 pounds of peeled and chopped mild green chilis depending on how hot they are.

Bring to boil.

Move pot into 325 degree oven for 3 hours.

Stir from the bottom every 30 minutes.

Important: Add hot stock or water as needed to keep meat and beans covered.

30 minutes before end of cooking add two raw 3" onions, chopped, or microwave them covered for eight minutes before adding just before service.

Taste beans for tenderness.

Add salt to taste after beans are tender, or at the table.

In my family, a small carafe of white vinegar is passed at the table so that diners can add a teaspoon of vinegar to their beans. Hot sauce is also good.  Some weird folks apply ketchup.

Savory corn bread makes an excellent accompaniment. I like mine with chopped green onion, and minced Non-pickled, finely chopped jalapenos folded into the batter.


Copyright © 2013+
James  Speed  Hensinger

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