For me Ham and Beans has always meant slow cooked dried beans with ham. As I was researching recipes recently, I found a few that included fresh green beans. This got me to thinking about really mixing up this recipe, If one fresh bean, why not all fresh beans.
One of the most memorable breakfasts I ever had was at my second cousins’ ranch in Pleasant Valley, Arizona. It was a simple breakfast of fresh picked pinto beans with some homemade jerky shaved into it. The taste of fresh pinto beans is unbelievably different from the more familiar dried bean experience. The cook in just a few minutes, but they were so incredibly good.
I am not sure if this is true, or if it was just a family story (I can find not corroboration on the Internet). If you have every read Riders of the Purple Sage, by Zane Grey, this is the “paradise-like valley” to which Lassiter, Fay, and Jane escape. While my cousin referred to it as Pleasant Valley that is not its name. Pleasant Valley is an American Shangri-La. My cousin told me that Zane Grey was living on the family ranch while he was writing the novel. My cousin also told me that the stone ranch house that Zane Grey describes in that book is the same one he showed me on the property. An interesting side note and less of a family tale, while Grey was writing the book that book (in 1912), my grandmother was the teacher in the community’s one room school house.
You will not find “Pleasant Valley” on a map. At the time, the community tried very hard to keep it that way. In fact, even though I have been there and I generally know where it is, I have had difficulty finding it in Google satellite view. As my cousin explained, the Pleasant Valley road crew was in charge of throwing fist-sized rocks into the road to keep the tourists out. The town that I think it was now has a pave road leading to it, but it has been forty years.
Ever since I conceived of ham and fresh beans I have wanted to try it. The original recipe called for using green beans. My thought was to use fresh garbanzo beans, as the second bean. I was planning to stew them, just like I would dry beans. As I read further, boiling garbanzos is just about the only thing you should not do to them. If you over-boil fresh garbanzos they apparently taste terrible and are very mushy. Steaming or frying them (or both) is the way to go.
Fresh garbanzos come in a thin papery shell. Pick beans that are bright green. Avoid ones where the hulls look old or rotted. If you want to have a half pound of beans you need to buy about ¾ pounds in the shells. Many recipes call for cooking the beans in the shell and then letting your diners remove them. For this dish I am planning to shuck the beans myself,
I decided that my third bean would be edamame. You can buy edamame either in the shell or pre-shelled. If you buy unshelled beans you should buy one pound to have ½ pound shelled.
After Dinner Note: This tasted very nice, but was lacking in color variation. The little bit a carrot was not quite enough. In the future I will add wax beans (yellow green beans) and if I can find them fresh pinto or red beans. As I mentioned, fresh pinto beans are a complexly different culinary experience than dried beans. If you get the chance do not miss it!
Karl’s Ham and Three Fresh Beans
½ lb. ham
½ lb. fresh garbanzo beans (shelled)
½ lb. edamame
1 small carrot
½ lb. fresh green beans
3 green onions
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbs. butter
½ tsp. thyme
¼ tsp. black pepper
1. Cut the ham into ½ inch dice.
2. Shell the garbanzos and edamame (if necessary).
3. Trim and cut the green beans into ¾ to 1 inch pieces.
4. Cut green onions into ¾ to 1 inch pieces. Separate the white and green parts to use separately.
5. Julienne the carrot into 1 ½ inch pieces.
Note: Cutting a vegetable “julienned” means to cut it into match sticks (into 1/8 x 1/8 by 1 to 2 inch pieces).
5. Mince the garlic and set aside.
6. Steam the garbanzos, edamame and green beans for 5 minutes.
7. Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and add the garbanzos, edamame, green beans, and the white parts of the green onions. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
8. Add the ham, carrot, garlic, pepper and salt. Sauté for another 2 minutes.
9. Add the green parts pf the onions and turn off the heat. Cook, with the residual heat, for one minute and serve immediately.