Nothing says summer like fresh butter beans and around these parts, the speckled variety does rather well in our hot, humid climate. Now I know these are not available in all areas as I have for years had many of you write me asking where on earth could you find these wonderful gems. My answer many times depending on your locale, is either the farmer's market when in season or in your grocers freezer. Yup, I have enjoyed many winter meals doing just that. There are many companies that package and distribute speckle butter beans so if your grocer does not carry it, tell them to get off their behiney and get to ordering. Once word gets out you better be the first in line, 'cause these will sell out faster than greased lighting.
Country Style Speckle Butter Beans
about 6 servings
1 pound fresh, shelled speckled butter beans (use frozen during the winter)
1 piece smoked turkey or pork meat
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic toe, minced
1 bay leaf or 1/4 teaspoon bay leaf powder
1 spring of fresh thyme or about 1/2 teaspoon
2 cups chicken stock
2 small vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, sliced
In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add the chicken stock along with 2 cups water. Add the smoked meat, chopped onion and bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Add desired salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a rolling boil and simmer on medium heat with lid partially covered for about 20 minutes. Make sure liquid does not evaporate adding more if needed.
Add the butter beans and add water or stock to cover well, at least by 1/2-inch. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about an hour or until the bean is creamy on the inside but still intact; do not overcook to mush. As stated in another recipe, I like to turn off the heat and allow beans to set in the pot-licker while finishing other parts of the meal.
Right before serving, pour off most of the liquid and stir in the tomatoes and green onions. Serve using a slotted spoon along side fresh, hot cornbread or muffins.
Note: Like many fresh beans, speckled butter beans enjoy cooking in a good amount of liquid.