The Opinionated Foodie: The Love (or Not) of Food and Everything That Goes with It

Cooked to Death Green Beans

Snappy vegetables are not common around here.

Honestly, I didn’t even know that green beans were slightly crunchy when they are fresh until I accidentally undercooked some fresh ones early in our marriage.  I took a bite and thought, “What in the world? Crunch?”  Then, as restaurants started freshening up their menus, I noticed the same snappy texture in their vegetables.  Not to sound ignorant, but it was something I hadn’t realized was possible.  Vegetables other than French fries could be crunchy?  After years and years of eating good Southern cooking by good Southern women, I didn’t know any better.

Around here, meaning within five hundred miles of where I sit right now, most people cook their vegetables to the point of no mercy including my beloved momma and grandmomma.

Am I complaining? Are you kidding?

Crunchy vegetables are great and good for you too.  Some vegetables, however, should be smothered in goodness and cooked to the point of having no nutritional value whatsoever.  Take for example, the green bean:

Cooked to Death Green Beans

One can of good quality green beans, rinsed.  Add more cans as necessary to fit the size of your crowd

One ham end.  You get these in the meat department when the hams are out around the holidays.  A ham end is what is left as the butcher is slicing the ham and it gets too small to slice anymore.  You can also use a piece of bony ham or any other piece that is not really worthy of eating.

One onion, chopped.

In a large pot over medium heat, brown your ham and your onion until they get nice and hot.  When brown marks start to appear on the ham and the onion starts to sweat, add only the juice from the green beans.  Allow this to heat to boiling then add all the green beans.  Stir and cover.  Drop the temperature to low and allow to simmer. Stir occasionally and cook for at least an hour.

When the rest of the meal is almost ready, turn the heat off and let it set.

Serve with dressing or cornbread.

Your green beans will be mushy and delicious and not good for you at all.  The ham will fall apart, and the onion will be caramelized and have the most amazing flavor.   A few small new potatoes and maybe a little garlic added with the green beans would make this a meal.  It is truly a delicious, full of flavor dish that would make any Southern momma proud.


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