Sunday, March 7, 2010

Precooked Bean Bones

So you've got your bean bones salted and smoked and packed away in the freezer (see Home Made Bean Bones). Now you're wondering what you should do with them.

Most of you probably already guessed 'Pork and Beans', but why not experiment with something different for a change. One thing I like to do is cook up a pot full of plain bean bones and stockpile them in the fridge.

Note: Consult your slow cooker's manual when ever necessary. The cooker used below may be different than the one you use. You may need to adjust the recipe and cook times to meet the requirements of your cooker.

For this, I like to use my Rival Crock-Pot stoneware slow
cooker that you see on the right. I purchased this back in the late 80's to early 90's when I was working as hand for a large farm and ranch in Eastern Montana. Since I was working ten to fifteen hour days, it was hard to come home and prepare meals. This little crock pot got a lot of use in those days.

First, you need to thaw out enough bean bones to fill your pot to it's minimum capacity. Mine is a 3 1/2 quart cooker and requires that it is at least filled half full before use. Read the instruction manual that came with your cooker to see what it's minimum load is before attempting this recipe.

Next; examine your bean bones. You want bones with meat on them, not lard and tendons. If your bones are nothing but lard and tendons, they're not suitable and defeat the purpose of what we are attempting to do which is creating a stockpile of precooked bean bone ham.

Now it's time to place the bean bones in you crock pot. There's no seasoning. They are already salted and smoked. All you need is to add water. Now I know that some slow cookers instructions say that some meats require no water when cooked on low by their self without vegetables. But being as bean bones are mostly bone and little meat, I like to add some water to them. I ruined a five quart slow cooker once by not having enough fluid in it. Once again I'd advise you to read the instruction manual that came with your cooker.

As you can see in the picture on the right, I have added my bean bones and water to the cooker. I've added about 2 cups of water. You don't want to add too much water because, as the meat cooks, the juices from the bean bones will add to the amount of fluid in the pot. If there is too much water, the juices may run over the side of the cooker, creating a burn and fire hazard. On the other hand, as I pointed out above, you don't want to have too little fluid in the cooker. Once again, consult your cooker's manual.

Put the lid on your cooker.

Now you're ready to start cooking. My cooker has three settings; Low, High, and Off. I like to cook on low. I cook the bones until the meat falls off. My cooker takes eight hours maximum time to cook on low (no more than four on high).
For your cooking times, you need to consult your cooker's manual.

Bean bones are basically ham so you want to cook them to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees F. The idea is to cook the meat until it readily falls off the bone so you may need to cook it for a little while longer after reaching the 160 degrees F. internal temperature.

Note: If the meat is dry and hard and turning dark in color, it's done. In fact it's been done for awhile.

When the bones are done, take them out of the cooker and allow them to cool. For this I use a slotted spoon. When they are cool enough to touch, remove the meat from the bones and place it in a container. Seal the container with a lid and place it in the fridge for future use. Dispose of the bones.

You now have your stock pile of bean bone... or... breakfast ham. What do you use it for? Omelets, scrambled eggs and ham, anything you make for breakfast that requires ham. (If you have any idea's, you're welcome to share them in the comments.) It's true you could just cook up a full sized ham but why not save that for the special occasions. Then you can stockpile the left overs.

Stay tuned. I'll have some recipes, using breakfast ham, available in the near future.