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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cajun Lima Beans and Ham with Green Chili Cornbread

Photo courtesy  Taste of Home
   One of the nice things about friends is that they pass around extras. A girlfriend of mine had some extra packages, of all things, lima beans, so I was determined to find a use for these little things. The obvious test was to use limas in a pot of ham and beans. I usually use navy or great northern beans, but as long as I've got plenty of limas, I thought why not? But to add a little zip, I threw in some Cajun spice.
   The thing that surprised me the most was how much water those little things soaked up. They really plumped up overnight and easily doubled in size. They also cooked quicker than most of the other beans I've used with ham.
   I made this dish ahead of time for later in the week, so we'd have a quick work-night meal. By letting the beans set, they really picked up the Cajun flavor and some subtle heat. When we were ready to eat, I made the cornbread and just warmed up bowls of ham and beans. That's dinner in about 30 minutes.
  There have been many things I've added to cornbread to give it an extra zip, but the green chilies really added moisture. The flavor was very subtle, but it was the most moist cornbread I've ever made, which is great for those who don't like it quite so dry. Of course, my answer to that is butter!

Cajun Lima Beans and Ham
1 cup cubed or chopped ham (give or take depending on how much you have)
1 tsp. Cajun spice
1/4 tsp. celery salt
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup onion, chopped fine (use more if you like)
1/2 of 16 oz. pkg. baby lima beans

   Rinse and sort lima beans. Put in large pot and cover with water by at least 3 or 4 inches. Let soak overnight. Drain beans and rinse. Return to pot and cover with water (a couple of cups). Add spices, onion and ham. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer. Let cook 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. (When using Cajun spice go easy on salt.)

Green Chili Cornbread
1 pkg. Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 small can green chilies, drained

   In small bowl, break egg and whisk. Add milk and corn muffin mix, stirring lightly. Drain green chilies and stir just to combine. Let mix set while preheating oven to 400. Spray an oven-proof 8 inch skillet. Pour cornbread mix into pan and smooth to edges to level out. Bake in oven according to package directions, about 20 minutes. Edges should just be golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes before cutting. Slather with butter and serve warm.
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