Feb 8, 2015

Comfort Food for a COLD Winter Night

This time of year, even Hawaii gets chilly. Nights on Moloka'i can drop to 60 degrees. Nothing is better and more comforting than hot soup made from white beans and smoked ham hocks, with a side of skillet corn bread.

White Bean Soup with Smoked Ham Hocks
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White Bean Soup with Smoked Ham Hocks
1 pound of dried white beans – Cannellini or Great Northern, about 2 1/2 cups
2 quarts of water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 1 3/4 pound smoked ham hock (available at Kualapu'u Market)
2 quarts of water
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (available at Kumu Farms),
    or use 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Soak the dry beans overnight cover in 2 quarts of water, or if you are in a hurry, fill a large pot with hot water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the beans and soak the beans for about 2 hours. Drain the water.

In a large pot, sauté the onions in olive oil over medium high heat. Cook until they are translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more.

Put the ham hocks in the pot and cover with 2 quarts of water. Add the fresh thyme or Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Heat on high heat until the water comes to a simmer, then lower the heat, partially cover and maintain the simmer for about 2 hours.

Once the ham hocks and onions have been simmering for two hours, add the drained soaked beans and carrots. Cook for another hour or so, uncovered, until the ham hock meat easily pulls away from the bone and the beans are tender. Remove the bones and fat from the ham hocks and discard. Return the ham hock meat to the soup. Serve garnished with a chopped fresh parsley. Makes 6-8 servings.

Iron Skillet Corn Bread

Iron Skillet Corn Bread
1 cup white or yellow corn meal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (you can add up to 1/2 cup if you like it really sweet)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons shortening or butter, melted

Sift the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, milk, and 1/4 cup shortening and beat with a wooden spoon or spatula until smooth, about 1 minute. Grease a 6-inch iron skillet (or a heavy baking pan) with the shortening, pour in the batter, and bake in a preheated 425˚F oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until light golden brown on top (be careful not to overcook the cornbread). Bring the skillet to the table and cut into wedges to serve. Great with barbecued ribs, chili or black bean soup. Makes 6 servings.

Note: For a moist interior and a nice crisp crust, put an iron skillet two thirds filled with water on the floor of your oven before you begin to preheat it. If you prefer corn muffins, grease just the bottoms of 12 regular-size muffin cups, or place paper baking cups in muffin cups. Fill about 3/4 full with batter.

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