Freshly snapped green beans are slow cooked with a smoky ham hock and spices for a traditional, heart-warming, Southern side dish!
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If you are a Southern woman, you may have memories of snapping green beans into a wooden bowl with your grandma or mama as a little girl. I know I do!
Green beans have a special place in my heart. Right next to the Lord, my family, and these Southern Buttermilk Biscuits. And these green beans have been a staple in my grandma’s kitchen since she was a girl here in Georgia. They are incredibly flavorful and so easy to make, you’ll be looking at my recipe like, “Girl, that’s it?!”
Now, this recipe isn’t like the other ones you’ll find online: this has ham hock in it. What’s a ham hock? It’s like the ankle of the pig, with lots of fat, collagen, and meat. When slow cooked the meat becomes melt-in-your-mouth tender and lends the green beans it’s smoky flavor. Don’t be scared! It’s an incredible part of the pig and it brings to this dish a flavor that can not be imitated or duplicated!
Yes, what you’re looking at is a fatty part of a ham hock. I have to admit, I eat the whole ham hock, it’s too delicious not to!
Smoked ham hocks are wonderful and if you can’t find them at your supermarket, go to your local farmer’s market or ethnic mart and ask for it. They might have them in huge slices or they might look like big knuckles, either way is good as long as there is skin, fat, and plenty of meat on them. That’s the good stuff.
Yes, you can substitute bacon for the ham hock, but they’d be pretty soggy in the liquid for hours. And yes, you can put a chopped up onion and potatoes in there, but that’s just not how it’s done in my house. It’s purely simmered green beans and meat, which can be a meal in and of itself for me, because those ham hocks are just soooooooo good! There’s also smoked turkey that you could put in instead if you don’t eat pork.
But I am Team Ham Hock til the day I die.
Here is what I used for this recipe:
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- 2 lbs fresh green beans, cleaned with ends popped and snapped
- 1 or 2 ham hocks
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp granulated onion
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Set your slow cooker to low (six hours) or high (3 hours) and toss in all ingredients. Stir to make sure all the spices are mixed into the liquid. Put on the top and leave alone.
- After time is done, serve hot.
If you are looking for more southern goodness, this creamy, baked macaroni and cheese will be well appreciated at the cookout.
Or you can make these zesty herb roasted potatoes. These start fights for the last ones at the table, I’m warning you now.
See you in the next post!
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.