And now for a recipe!
My Bolita Beans
This hands down is my favorite bean. It's also my kids favorite. Once you've had them, you'll see why, they are plump, meaty, smooth, easy on the stomach, and they are a local food for us. We get ours from Schweback Farm, and surprisingly they aren't sold out yet from this past harvest. The year before they sold out so fast we went without for the year!
And if you are interested here is a little info about Bolita Beans at Local Harvest/Slow Food USA, a recipe from Taos News (and chicos, which I'll be giving my recipe in the next blog post), and New Mexico Magazine's version.
What I've found is that I don't like my Bolita Beans complicated with a lot of additions. Many times, tomato products are added to beans because the acid in them tenderizes the bean, as the salt does. Any how I urge you to try them simple.
You can make 1 pound instead of 2. I make 2 because we eat them a lot.
You can also adjust the ham hocks, onion, and garlic ratios suited to your taste. My mom adds 6 cloves of garlic for each pound. For Texas style beans, I've seen as much as 8 ham hocks added to 1 pound of beans.
For vegetarian/vegans I imagine you could use liquid smoke, I have done this in the past, but never took any notes on the amount added.
For us locals, Keller's has someone that smokes their hocks locally. I can't recommend them enough. They are excellent quality and flavor. Call first to see if they have them, they sell out quickly. When they do have them, I buy extra to freeze.
Two pounds yields me about 12 cups cooked beans. I freeze them, and how I do it takes a bit of extra time, but do what works for you. Remove hocks, bay leaves, and onion and discard. Strain liquid from beans but reserve! Measure out two cups of beans into containers, then pour reserved liquid just to cover beans. I find that reheating them with their liquid after being frozen is better.
Before eating we often add either chopped roasted New Mexico green chile or Red Chile Sauce.
And lastly, don't omit the bay leaf. It really makes a difference!
Cuisine: New Mexican
Serves: 12 (1 cup portions)
- 2 pounds bolita beans rinsed well and picked over
- 3 smoked ham hocks rinsed
- 1 large onion, peeled and halved
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoons sea salt
Place beans thru bay leaves in crockpot. Add a minimum of 10 cups of water. Turn crockpot to high and let come to a good simmer (1 to 2 1/2 hours depending on model crockpot), then turn down to low and simmer for additional 2 to 3 hours. 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours of total cooking time for the beans to be tender and cooked thru, but you'll notice the skin may feel just a little tough. Add the salt and cook for another half hour, beans will be perfectly tender.