If you’ve got a pile of leftover ham after your Easter feast and you’re not in the mood to eat ham sandwiches for a solid week, try a pot of ham and beans. This filling, flavorful dish reheats well, keeps in the refrigerator for several days and can be frozen to be eaten later. Don’t be afraid to experiment with flavors or add in extra vegetables or meats that you want to use up.
1 pound dry great northern beans
About 6 ounces bacon, diced
1/2 pound (or more) cooked ham, diced
2 to 3 fresh sausage links (optional)
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 3 carrots, chopped
1 to 1-1/2 quarts of stock (use less for a thicker soup)
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon pepper (or more to taste)
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or about a teaspoon dried)
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
Rinse dried beans, then soak overnight in salted water (at least eight hours). In a medium-hot pot or Dutch oven, render bacon and then remove as much fat as you want, but keep some. If you’re adding sausage, drop sausages into hot fat and brown (leave them whole during the cooking process), then add onion and carrots. When the onions are translucent and the carrots have softened slightly, add the beans and diced ham and stir to distribute the rendered fat. Add stock and stir, then add spices. Heat until bubbling, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until beans are tender. Remove thyme sprigs, bay leaves and sausages. Slice the sausages and add back to the pot, discard the bay leaves and thyme. Add more pepper if desired — you likely won’t need more salt. Serve hot.