White Bean and Ham Hock Stew
Recipe: Teena Hildebrand, Narrow Gate Vineyards
Every fall and winter I make this easy, comforting and hearty stew. The aromatic vegetables and smoky aroma fill the kitchen and the anticipation of a steaming bowl sends Frank straight to the cellar to select the perfect wine. Ladle into warm bowls as a starter or a main course lunch or dinner by the fire. It’s extremely versatile as it pairs with both white and red wines. Be sure to make extra – it freezes well and when surprise guests arrive you’ll be so glad you did!
2 Smoked ham hocks or 1 large smoked ham bone
2 cups dried White beans (canned bean option below*)
1 Bay leaf
4 – 6 cups of Water
1 cup diced Carrots
1 cup diced Celery
1 medium White or yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan, Pecorino, or sharp white cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Herbs such as parsley or basil (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Presoak and sort white beans according to package instructions, rinse, and drain. Add uncooked beans, ham hocks, and bay leaf to a deep stockpot set on medium high heat and add enough water to cover the ingredients then cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour or until beans become tender to the tooth. Add diced carrots, celery, onion and garlic and continue to simmer another 15 – 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Remove bay leaf and bone from soup and pull off any meat, chop and add back to soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into warmed bowls, sprinkle with cheese and fresh herbs. Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.
*Option: Use canned beans: omit the beans at the beginning of the recipe and add the bay leaf along with the vegetables. When the vegetables are tender add 2 or 3 (15 ounce) canned white beans (or your favorite other beans), drained and rinsed. Remove bay leaf and serve when beans are hot.