Cooler weather means warmer comfort food in this house. The kind of food that wafts throughout your home after you've left for a while and it's been simmering for an hour or so. The kind of food that you smell when your neighbor is cooking and you catch a scent and your head goes "wow that smells good." The kind of food that takes you to a place from childhood. That kind of food — that is my definition of comfort food.
So as it turns out, the temperature here in RVA dipped into the high 40's Saturday night which meant it was time to put some navy beans on the stove top.
- 2 pound (32 ounce) bag dry navy beans
- 2 ham hocks or smoked meat
- 7 cups water
- Diced tomatoes with the juice
- Fresh thyme sprigs
- Hot pepper (serrano or cayenne), split and diced
- Fresh pepper & hot sauce
Begin overnight by covering beans with water. Let stand in a pot, the water will quickly be absorbed by the beans. Some folks say to boil them then let them sit — I do not see where that makes a difference. The next morning drain and rinse the beans and set aside.
Cover your meat with 6 cups of water and add fresh ground pepper, bringing to a simmer and allow to cook for about 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Remove the meat, reserving the liquid and chop into smaller bits. Taste the reserved liquid as it will be a little too powerful and salty to use all of that for your beans. I used two cups of the liquid diluted with 5 cups of water to cover the beans again and bring them to a simmer over low heat. Keep an eye on the liquid level, stirring frequently and adding water as needed to keep that liquid line above the beans.
Taste the beans once you have finished the previous step to check for consistency and doneness. I do like a little firmer bean to a softer bean. Once at your desired likeness, add the tomatoes with their juices, ham bits, and thyme stirring again at a simmer until heated thoroughly.
When I was a child a little ketchup was always added to the center of my beans and stirred in for an added sweetness (one of the very few things I ever remember liking using ketchup). Now I have graduated to hot sauce which really adds a little kick to things.
It had been a while since navy beans made the rotation and I am so happy they did as the meal for Sunday night was quite "comforting" with football. So what kinda food is comfort food to you and how do you remember it? What are you bringing back from your childhood of late?
E.A.T. local E.A.T. well