Ham bones are a traditional flavoring for beans, and I remember my mother making pinto or navy beans cooked with ham and onions and served with cornbread. It was simple, homey food that warmed the belly and was easy on the budget. We use ham bones in soups and beans, and save the large ham bones when we cook ham for Sunday dinner, I just store them in the freezer. I like black beans with ham and spice them up with Mexican flavors. We enjoy these beans as a main dish with jalapeno cheddar cornbread or rice or as a side dish for Mexican foods.
You can make this on the stove or in a slow cooker. If the ham bone is especially large, I may double the recipe and freeze some of the leftovers.
[Updated July 2014.]
Spicy Black Beans and Ham
- 4-quart pot or other large pot or bowl
- 6 quart pot with lid
- 16 ounces dry black beans
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion (chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 large meaty ham bone
- 2 quarts water
- cilantro (chopped)
- green onions (chopped)
- yellow or white onions (chopped)
- bell pepper (chopped)
- Sort the beans, pick any stones out, then pour them in the 4-quart pot or bowl and cover with water, until it’s a couple inches over the beans. Allow to sit overnight. Drain and rinse the beans in a colander.
- Warm the olive oil in the 6-quart pot over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Add the cumin, chili powder, and red pepper flakes, cooking and stirring until the spices have melded with the olive oil and are very fragrant.
- Add the beans, the ham bone, and the water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour. Garnish and serve.