As mentioned here, I grew up with many beans and rice combinations. One of my favorite being dried lima beans with rice. Dried large or baby lima beans are white, not green, and have a very different taste from their fresh, green counterparts.
While visiting my family in Louisiana, I stocked up on several pounds of my favorite Camellia brand beans and peas, including a few pounds of Dried Baby Limas.
On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I was looking for a way to cook my dried limas when it hit me -- try the slow cooker.
I'm not typically a big fan of the slow cooker. The components tend to lose their individual flavors and the resulting mass becomes a "uni-dish" of sorts. The key to the slow cooker success in this recipe is adding the veggies and bacon later in the cooking. Granted, this is not how Mama does it. She slaves over the dish all day. Still in all, my slow cooker version came out tasting very similar to hers. The only thing I didn't use was salt pork, which is an authentic component to the recipe. I tried to stay on the leaner side by using a chunk of Canadian bacon, which is not authentic, but may help you stick to your resolution (okay, MY resolution) to get back into shape. :)
So, keep in mind that this recipe is just an adaptation of something more authentic. However, it's still a pretty good way to introduce yourself to the wonders of the Southern dried lima bean.
Slow Cooker Lima Beans
1 lb Camellia brand dried large limas or baby limas
3 c chicken stock or broth
2 c water
4 oz chunk of tasso ham
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Creole seasoning
1 tsp salt
Tabasco or Louisiana brand hot sauce
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic (2 minced, one peeled and left whole)
1 lb lean Canadian bacon, medium diced*
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 sprig of fresh thyme (de-stemmed)
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
Salt, pepper, hot sauce, and Creole seasoning to taste
* or sub 1/2 lb salt pork at beginning of cooking
1) Place beans in the bottom of a medium or large slow cooker pot.
2) Add the chicken stock, water, tasso, Creole seasoning, dried thyme, salt, and 1/2 tsp of each hot sauce to the pot. * If using salt pork, add it now.
3) Cook on High for 4 hours. While beans are cooking, season the onions and garlic with salt and pepper and saute' in the olive oil until softened and aromatic.
4) After the initial 4 hours of cooking, add the Canadian bacon, sauteed onions and garlic, and fresh thyme to the beans. Add up to an additional cup of water if beans appear to be dry or sticking to the pot.
5) Cook an additional hour on High. Stir to mash some of the beans.
6) Stir in vinegar and parsley, then season to taste with salt, pepper, Creole seasoning, and pepper sauces. *If using salt pork, remove the pork and shred into small pieces. Return pork to bean mixture and stir.
Serve over extra long grain rice with pickled okra, pickled peppers, and/or pickled cocktail onions. Add a salad and some ice cold Abita beer!