Lima Beans and a Mess O’ Greens

by Paula Marcoux
from the Turn Up the Heat this Winter article, winter 2010-11

African-American and Afro-Caribbean cooks have long known how to furnish the perfect canvas for diners to embroider with their favorite spicy condiments. If you think you hate lima beans, or automatically reject the idea of cooking any vegetable for more than two minutes, making these dishes will open you up to a whole new way to appreciate life. Important in the winter.

Limas
• 1 pound dry lima beans (we love the giant ones from Gonsalves)
• 1 large yellow onion, chopped
• 1 ham hock

Rinse limas and cover with cold water by 2 inches in a soup pot. Soak overnight, or while you’re at work.

Add ham hock and onion, and, if there’s not still one inch of water over the beans, top it up. Bring to a simmer, turn down to the lowest setting, and skim off any foam.

Cover and allow to cook, very slowly, until beans are soft and ham hock is falling apart (you can pluck out the bones and fatty skin at that point, and break up the meat). Taste for salt,
which it may need.

Greens
• 3-5 bunches of collards, turnip greens, or kale (Even the addition of some brussels sprout leaves or broccoli leaves and chard is not amiss.)
• 1 ham hock, or 1-2 tablespoons bacon fat or vegetable oil or fatty stock
• a pinch of ground red pepper
• salt to taste
• 1 clove of garlic and/or 1 small onion, chopped

Submerge greens to wash well, then drain and chop coarsely across the grain, stems and all. Toss them, along with the rest of the ingredients, into a large pot, along with enough water to cover the bottom of the pan by 1 inch.

Bring to a boil, covered, then stir and turn down to a simmer.

Cook at least 2 hours, checking the moisture level to maintain at least 1 inch of pot liquor at the bottom. (Add water if necessary; if there’s too much liquid, cook with the lid ajar for a while to evaporate some.) Taste for salt and correct.

Enjoy the limas and greens together with your favorite corn bread, a cold beer, and a tasty local hot sauce.

Serves 4.

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