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Southern-Style Lima Beans

Lima beans are popular in the southern part of the United States, perhaps less so in other regions, but good anywhere and any time. The trick is to cook them right. Oddly enough, cooking lima beans the right way does not mean cooking them into mush, as well as oversalt them. Historically speaking, lima beans are more southern than most suspect: They were being grown and eaten in South America thousands of years ago. Fresh lima beans are the best, although they require more work to prepare, including shelling them. You’re most likely to find fresh limas at a farmer’s market, especially in the South. Alternately, feel free to use the dried or frozen ones that your supermarket carries. You can probably find both large and small (“baby”) sizes although the small ones as they seem to be more resistant to turning mushy as you cook them, but either will work fine. If you start with dried lima beans, you should soak them for at least five hours and preferably overnight before cooking. Keep in mind that dried limas will swell from soaking and cooking, at least doubling in volume. So, a cupful of dried limas will cook up to 2 cups or a little more. 1 lb Large Lima Beans, Dried 1/2 lb Green Split Peas, Dried 3 – Smoked ham hocks (2-3 pounds) 1/2 tsp Salt 3 – Yellow onions 6 – Cloves garlic; crushed or minced 1 Tbs Ground cumin 1 tsp Ground black pepper 1/8 or up to 1/4 tsp Ground cayenne pepper Enough water to cover 1 Simmer beans in 1-2 quarts of water for 30 minutes, either in the crockpot on “high” heat or in another pot over the stove. The beans will have swelled and softened slightly” drain and rinse and put them into the crockpot. 2 This is not traditional, but I like to add 1/2 pound of dried green split peas to the pot. If you leave these out, you may want to cut down on spices a bit or start with more lima beans. 3 Add ham hocks, 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 Add onions or garlic, Add cumin, black and cayenne pepper. Add enough water to cover. 5 Cook 4-8 hours on “auto-shift” or “low” heat. At some point, remove the ham hocks and separate the bones and fat from the bits of meat, cutting up the meat and return to the crockpot. When done, this dish should resemble a stew with a thick broth; the beans

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