Old Fashioned Lima Beans with Ham

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of The New Orleans Cookbook by Richard and Rima Collin

Serves 8 or more

  • 2 lb. dried butter (lima) beans, soaked overnight in cold water at least  twice the depth of the beans
  • 2 c. chopped onion
  • 2 tsp. finely minced celery leaves
  • 2 Tbs. finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbs. finely minced garlic
  • 1 lb. slab bacon, cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 1 lb. seasoning (baked) ham, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne
  • 3 whole bay leaves, broken into quarters
  • ¾ tsp. dried thyme
  • ⅛ tsp. dried marjoram
  • ⅛ tsp. mace
  • 2½ qt. cold water, approximately
  • hot cooked rice, for serving


Old Fashioned Lima Beans with Ham

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Drain the soaked beans in a colander and put them, along with all the other ingredi­ents, in a heavy 8- to IO-quart pot or kettle, using just enough cold water to barely cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for about 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender but not mushy. (If they have absorbed plenty of water during soaking, they should be done in less time than the maximum indicated. Taste a bean to find out if they are done; it should be creamy in texture, but still have enough solidity to chew on.) Stir frequently and scrape the sides and bottom of the pot to prevent scorching. When the beans are cooked, remove the pot from the burner and let it cool for about 15 to 20 minutes. Then cover the pot and let it stand at room temperature for 1 ½ to 2 hours.

When you are ready to serve, ladle just the amount of beans you plan to serve into a heavy saucepan and heat them slowly over low heat, stirring frequently, until they are quite hot. (About 1½ cups per portion is a safe estimate.) You can reheat more if necessary. (Discard any leftover reheated beans. If you put them back with I he others, they will spoil the flavor and texture of the whole batch.) Add a bit of water If the mixture seems too dry. Serve over boiled rice.


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