June 1, 2010

Fresh Green Beans & New Potatoes

Summer Fresh

I just love fresh vegetables. And there is nothing better than garden fresh, unfortunately, I don’t have one. So I depend on farmers markets, local produce stands and weekly market day to get homegrown or farm fresh produce.

This week is going to be about good ‘ol southern vegetables and how I was taught to cook ‘em. Today, it’s about pole beans.

There are two main types of beans: pole beans and bush beans. Pole beans and half runner beans tend to have more flavor. Pole beans grow on a tall vine and produce beans continuously during the growing season and yield a larger overall harvest in the same amount of garden space as bush-type beans.

These are three varieties from Victory Seeds that I remember and think are interesting:
Kentucky Wonder (Old Homestead)
68 Days — A green pole bean with long, fleshy and stringless pods when young and tender.
McCaslan
66 Days — An old Southern favorite introduced in 1912 by the McCaslan family of Georgia. Its pods are up to eight inches long and used as snap (green or string) beans or shelled. The seeds are plump and white.
Riggin's Stick
68 Days (100 to dry stage) — From Mark Chappel whose family in Kentucky, on his mother's side, have handed down these beans since before the civil war. They simply called them "Stick Beans" as tobacco sticks were used as support for the heavy vines to climb on. The stick beans are a favorite and they have a real "beany", almost meaty flavor.

Beans taste best when eaten fresh, but they will keep for a week to 10 days if you store them in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of a refrigerator.


Fresh Green Beans and New Potatoes

3 pounds fresh green beans
1/4 pound salt pork and bacon (some folks like smoked turkey neck bones or ham hocks)
2 cups chicken broth, plus more if needed
2 to 3 teaspoons Kitchen Seasoning (mixture of salt, pepper and garlic)
12 small red potatoes
1 onion -cut into slivers
1/2 stick margarine
Ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves -optional
1 tablespoon cider (or red wine) vinegar

Trim the ends from the beans and cut in half. Soak in a large pan full of cold water for an hour and then place into a colander. Set aside.

In a large stockpot, cook the bacon over medium heat the turning often until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, leave the bacon renderings in the pot. Add the green beans and stir with a wooden spoon to coat well with the grease. Add the broth and Kitchen Seasoning. Cover tightly and cook over low heat for approximately 15 minutes.

Remove a center strip from each new potato with a sharp knife while the beans are cooking. At the end of the 15 minutes, add the potatoes and onion to the beans, add a little more broth if needed along with the margarine, pepper to taste and thyme. Covered tightly and cook another 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Check often to make sure a small amount of liquid remains.

When the potatoes are tender, ajar the lid slightly to the side of the pot, add the vinegar and continue to cook until the beans wilt slightly about 15 minutes more. Serve with the bacon sprinkled on top.

Notes: Kitchen Seasoning is mandatory in our family, a mason jar filled with pepper, garlic powder and a little salt.

For folks preferring to omit the salt pork and bacon grease, it’s okay, just add a little oil of your choice, butter or margarine. I was taught back in my youth that the beans should be coated in grease and it's been good enough all these years.

9 comments :

  1. I love the descriptions of all those different beans, I really never knew that much about them. I use to go Stick bean picking in Upstate NY, they would have fields of them, and after the harvest they let anyone go in and collect what was left on the ground, fabulous when cooked just picked! We boiled and added the bacon and butter... I love the idea of the chicken broth potatoes and vinegar at the end these have to be awesome in flavor ! your mom sure knew how to cook it up!

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  2. This is a great dish, one of my favorite's especially when fresh from the garden. I don't have a garden now and also rely on the farmer's markets. Your addition of the thyme leaves and red wine vinegar sounds like it would be a wonderful thing. Thanks for the recipe and I can see you have many good ones here!

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  3. I didn't know that about pole vs bush beans. Beans and potatoes - a classic! It's so fun that you're focusing on vegetables (even if you do include bacon ... I give you a pass on that because you're Southern!)

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  4. Two of my most favorite vegetables. I'm very excited that we have a CSA just opened down the street. Now I can get fresh and local every week.

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  5. I love the combination of green beans and potatoes.

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  6. Ok, now you've got me craving beans! My local produce stand just sent me an email saying they have local bean available as well. I think the food gods might be trying to tell me something and I think it involves a pile of fresh green beans.

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  7. A classic combination - green beans and red new potatoes! And, yes, I cook them almost identically to your method, except I never heard of adding the vinegar at the end. I will bet, though, that it is just delicious. Not much better than a pot of this. Yum.

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  8. The fresh vegetables in spring and summer are the best! The green beans & new potatoes is such an excellent side dish!

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  9. These are my go to vegetables if I cannot think of anything else. Never fails.

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