To me green beans symbolize the holidays, a special ocassion, a celebration, whatever the moment, they are a classic favorite of mine.
I prepare them in so many different ways but hand-down this is my family's favorite way to enjoy these little green wonders.
The key to making this recipe a success is slooooooooow cooking - ten hours worth of slow cooking. Don't try this on the high setting of your slow cooker, the flavor just doesn't compare.
Even though they are simmering away along with meaty ham shanks and smoked ham hock, the green bean flavor is not lost, on the contrary it is enhanced. It's richer, deeper and so incredibly savory.
The best part? Everything gets chucked into the slow cooker, that's it. Nothing more to do than sit back and let the cooking aromas tantalize your taste buds all day. And really how bad can that be?
Give it a try, I think you'll make these green beans a part of repertiore!
2 - 3 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed *
1 big meaty piece of ham shank or two medium pieces
1 smoked ham hock, scored
1 large onion, chopped
1 head of garlic, crushed, no need to peel**
2 quarts of ham stock (substitute with chicken stock if not available)
Salt** and pepper to taste
- Place all the ingredients in a slow cooker.
- Set for 10 hours on low. (Do not use the high cooking temperature, the results are not the same)
- Shred ham hock and shank.
- Remove the garlic or slip the peel off and throw back into the green beans
Serve with anything but especially delicious with a down home southern meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and cornbread. Fish out the garlic head** or leave it in and serve with the green beans. I've been known to have this dish on its own as meal with just a wedge (or two) of cornbread to soak up the juices.
Recipe notes: If you have juices left over, DON'T throw them out! Use them to make another batch or save them to use when you make a batch of split peas or any bean for that matter! The juice freezes well in zip bags.
** Go easy on the salt, since the shank and hocks are fairly salty. Check for seasoning halfway through cooking time and adjust if needed. You can either remove the garlic head and discard (terrible thing to do!) or gently squeeze out the paste and mix back into the green beans (a great thing to do!).