Thursday, April 11, 2013

Head to Tail Dining Hearth-Style

The other night, I was having a conversation about head to tail dining. And decided, if I lived under different circumstances, for example, on a rural farm in the middle of Scandinavia, I would be the type of person to eat head to tail.  This means, you use EVERYTHING.  I love this idea of waste not want not and making something good out of the gross parts.

For the record, I don't live in rural Scandinavia. I do not have access to pig entrails, chicken feet or assorted critter parts... I guess I could find them if I looked, but that would take some serious work.  So, I don't eat head to tail, but I do attempt to use what I've got to the best of my abilities.

Like many people out there, we had ham for Easter and there was a lot left over, including the ham bone.  So, in my house the only thing to do after ham dinner is make ham and beans soup.

You have to plan ahead when you make this recipe because you need to pre-soak your beans the night before.  Simple enough.  Take a bag of dry white beans, I used Great Northern, throw them in a dutch oven, sort through them to make sure there aren't any bits of rock or dirt, cover well with water and let soak while you sleep. (Or do the quick-soak method listed on the package)

This recipe takes 2 to 3 hours to cook, so, well in advance of dinner time, drain your beans and put back in your dutch oven.  Cover the beans with 1 quart of chicken stock and enough clean water the liquid covers the beans by two inches.  I did not have any chicken stock, so I used water and some bouillon cubes.

Dice up an onion and about 5 stalks of celery.  I didn't use carrots, but you could and it would be delicious.  Throw veggies in the water.  Season with some pepper, I would hold off on salt at this point because the ham is salty and the chicken stock/ bouillon cubes may be enough.

Toss in your ham bone, but not the leftover meat.  I don't think boiled to death ham is delicious, so I add it at the very end. I typically will turn the ham bone periodically as it simmers to ensure all the hammy goodness enters the soup.

Bring pot to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Top with a lid, slightly ajar, and let simmer for a couple of hours until the beans are nice and soft.  This has taken me as little as two hours and as long as 3 hours. It all depends on your beans, so that's why I say give yourself plenty of time.

When your beans are done remove the bone (be careful, it's bloody hot) and chop up the reserved ham. The best part about doing this yourself is you get to make sure none of the gristly bits go back in.  Shudder.  Even though I like the idea of head to tail, I'm still not going to eat gristle.

This soup only gets more flavorful as it sits in your fridge and will last you a few meals.  We have eaten this for two days straight and The Mister has taken it for lunch as well, and I still have enough for me to have lunch for a couple more days. Quite often, because it makes so much, I throw half the soup in a freezer bag so we can eat it a few months later. This way my kids don't get tired of the leftovers.  If you like a touch of spice, sprinkle on a dash of chilli powder in your individual bowl. You can also eat it like my parents, throw a fresh slice of home-baked bread on a plate and cover it with the soup.

Enjoy eating waste not want not style!

Thanks for reading.

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  1. Yummmmm! Sam and I both love beans and corn bread for dinner! (Good thing too because it's inexpensive!) But....we part ways when it comes to the beans...I like navy, he likes brown beans. We've been compromising with Great Northern!! Looks good Heather!

  2. Yummy I love anything with ham in it. We have a similar soup but use split peas instead of beans.

    Now I want soup!

  3. My mom always cooked like this so whenever I have HM soups and stews it reminds me of home. This sounds delicious! Great photos, Heather.

  4. Oh you're funny, you are!!! Haha!
    My mom made this soup all the time - we loved the beans. She would either get bacon hock or soup bones (beef). It was awesome but I've never been able to get my soup to ever taste like hers. Sean loves to have his soup served over bread too xxx


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