Pinto Beans w/ ham and roasted cauliflower

For Christmas last year, Craig’s best friend got us the equally strange and neat gift of sliced and vacuum packed country ham.  If you haven’t had country  ham, it’s the funkier, dryer, rawer cousin of a standard ham.  This makes it the perfect addition to beans, almost as good as a ham hock!  So when we first got the ham, I made a pot of beans, and it was the best pot of beans I’ve ever cooked.  The remainder of the slices were filed away in the freezer, awaiting the perfect preparation.  And you know what?  It’s beans!  They’re just so stinkin’ good! I solemnly pulled the last few slices out of the freezer the other day, knowing that I’d be making some delicious beans. I am aware the photo isn’t great.  Couldn’t be bothered to use a real camera or flash.  Also, beans don’t photograph well. Here’s how it went.

Ingredients:
2 cups dried pinto beans
1.5 T salt
1 large onion
1 rib celery
1 carrot
3 cloves garlic
red pepper flakes
3 slices ham (or other smoked magnificence)
1 parmesan rind

Monday night:
*Soak 2 cups of beans with 8 cups water and 1.5 T salt overnight in crock pot sleeve

Tuesday morning:
*Drain and rinse beans, put crock into the crock pot, and turn to high (only do this if your crock pot is the old-style that can’t boil.  If yours can boil, turn it to low).
*Chop and saute a large yellow onion until the edges start turning brown.
*Chop up the celery and carrot and toss the onion, carrot, and celery into the crock pot with the beans.
*I rinsed my cast iron pan out and scraped up all the extraneous onion goodness, then dumped that in with the beans
*Press, mince, or grate your garlic and toss that in also.  Follow up with a hefty pinch of red pepper flakes, or heat-source of your choice (roasted hatch chiles would have been incredible here!)
*Nestle your hunks of ham in the beans
*I had a parmesan rind in the freezer and figured I’d throw that in as well.  I don’t know if it made an appreciable difference, but the beans were delicious.
*Add enough water to cover your beans just a little bit
*Go to work

Tuesday evening:
*Taste the beans.  Ensure they are soft and creamy versus crunchy or grainy
*Pull the weird stuff out.  This includes bone, parm rind, fat hunks, etc.
*Break apart the pieces of ham and return them to the beans
*Stir, dish into a bowl, add some hot sauce (Crystal is the best) and enjoy.  I added some roasted cauliflower. Splitting a bottle of local seasonal beer with your special someone is also a nice touch.

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