July 20, 2010

Fresh Baby Butter Beans in Cream

Creamy, buttery and smooth.

Lima beans or butter beans as they are known here in the South are often cooked with smoked meats as in this recipe, many times simply simmered slowly and frequently cooked in delightful casseroles. However, in this one, the beans are cooked in a seasoned ham stock and then served in a creamy style sauce.

I like this recipe a whole lot. It takes a little of the old country feel from my hometown and mixes in a little of city fixin’s that’s good enough for church socials, fancy dinner parties and just good 'ol everyday eating.

This time of year there is nothing better than fresh baby lima beans but come winter, frozen ones are just fine too. Enjoy!

Fresh Baby Butter Beans in Cream

4 tablespoons softened butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic pod
1/2 cup cooked diced smoked ham
2 cups chicken stock
1 small bay leaf
Pinch of brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound fresh baby Lima beans
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons fresh chopped chives
    Sort through the fresh beans removing any that are hard or discolored. Rinse well. Even fresh beans will cook faster if they are soaked in cold water overnight in the refrigerator. Just rinse again under running water when ready to cook.

    In a 3 quart saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter or use olive oil if desired over medium high heat. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are wilted. Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, brown sugar, salt, pepper and ham. Bring to a rapid boil, reduce to medium high simmer and cook for 30 minutes stirring occasionally adding water as needed. This is where you want the vegetables to really render out.

    Strain the liquid into a bowl discarding the vegetables and ham. Return stock to the pan, add the butter beans and add enough water to cover beans by 2 inches. Bring beans to a boil, reduce to low and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Check seasonings; add salt and pepper if needed and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom.
    Drain beans well.

    Return beans to the saucepan. Mix flour with remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir into the beans. Heat thoroughly and stir to thicken creating a creamy sauce. Stir in the chives and if desired, a tablespoon or two of minced ham. Serve hot.


    1. I have not worked with Lima beans before.... I am sure they have it but just not tasted it before as well.

    2. oooh I love fresh butter beans!!

    3. I bet these are good, I just came home from the farmers market and I didn't see butter beans!

    4. yummy I havent thought about these in years....wow memories of these beans and the sweetness you have them in will be a new try for me on this recipe...I know the flavors in this recipe will make me want them more often! thanks for reminding me about these!

    5. mmmmmm! I love these. I wish we could get them here.

    6. I have never seen baby butter beans. They look really delicious....mmm. I can only find dried butter beans. Bet I can cook it this way too.

    7. I think butter beans must be a Southern food not grown in the chilly north. Cooking beans in heavy cream seems like a winning idea. Do you think your recipe is half of the inspiration for succotash? Thanks for a great post.

    8. The photo really shows how fresh these baby butter beans are. I have yet to find baby butter beans in the Seattle area but I will keep looking. Regular, dried butter beans are a down home favorite in my Mother's kitchen and brings back warm memories.

    9. I haven't had butter beans in forever! They used to make great butter beans at this restaurant I worked at in Florida. This recipe sounds pretty similar---I can't wait to try.

    10. These look perfect, I have not had these since I was a child:)

    11. This post is bringing back memories from my mother's kitchen. Love this recipe for cooking butter beans, looks and sounds delicious!

    12. Oh that looks like something from my childhood Drick. My family did not grow up with butter beans and consequently, I don't prepare them for dinner. These look great - nice post man!

    13. Drick, I think you came up with the only ingredient that could make butter-beans more decadent and that is cream. The hamhocks are a necessity but with the added cream these are sure to be the show stopper.

    14. I've never tried lima beans. I think I'm missing out!

    15. great recipe, anything in cooked in cream is wonderful, lol


    16. I love butter beans with tons and tons of ... what else? butter! yummmm And of course cream is extra yum.