It's fall and that means warm, comforting foods like soups and stews. It is a basic southern recipe but with a little Italian twist. I glaze my ham with a balsamic reduction and it complements the ham and beans very nicely. If you don't have access to an unccooked country ham, you can use this glaze on a prebaked ham and it will sweeten the ham nicely. I always serve a corn bread to crumble in and alongside the soup. Now in the south, there is a very wise adage that says "Your tea should be sweet, your cornbread should NOT" ...Since i usually like to serve this on a Sunday afternnon, I have to start the ham and stock the night before. You would think that I would soak my beans then...but no, never remember to soak the beans,,,they are there in my cupboard next to the cans of beans which i always end up using... —lorigoldsby
Country ham with balsamic glaze and bean soup
spiral sliced country ham
each of ground clove, allspice and mace
Simmer brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and spices in a small saucepan until reduced by half. It should be a nice syrupy consistancy. If you are using a pre-cooked ham, layer pan with foil, "fluff" out the ham a 1/16"inch and pour glaze on top/bottom of ham. Bake at 250-for 35-45 minutes.
Remove ham from bone. Use bone to make a ham stock. Add vegetables, cover with water and simmer 2-4 hours. Add onion in and simmer another hour or two. Skim, strain and chill overnight. The chilled stock will become very gelationous.
Bring stock up to a low boil and add 1 can of the northern beans, simmer 20 minutes (these are pre-cooked). Using a blender, puree the 2nd can of beans and add this to the simmering soup. Simmer while you make the cornbread.
Add chunks fo ham to the soup. Optional..also add diced onions.
Southern Style Cornbread
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Use a metal pan and place 2 T. bacon fat or butter in pan and warm pan in oven.
Mix together all dry ingerdients and then add all wet ingredients except melted butter. Pour into heated/greased pan. Pour melted butter on top. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden.
I learned to cook with my Gran. I can still see her reading a recipe and figuring out how she would make it better. She was fearless about substituting ingredients--but also knowledgeable. She approached food in the same way she built her antique business--appreciate quality ingredients and workmanship, but don't be a snob. I think I carry those same beliefs in my approach to cooking. I love family style dinners, I love a fancy ladies' luncheon with my wedding china, or a backyard seafood boil to celebrate my husband's birthday...I love to share food with others.