Creamy, buttery and smooth.
Lima beans or butter beans as they are known here in the South are often cooked with smoked meats as in this recipe, many times simply simmered slowly and frequently cooked in delightful casseroles. However, in this one, the beans are cooked in a seasoned ham stock and then served in a creamy style sauce.
I like this recipe a whole lot. It takes a little of the old country feel from my hometown and mixes in a little of city fixin’s that’s good enough for church socials, fancy dinner parties and just good ‘ol everyday eating.
This time of year there is nothing better than fresh baby lima beans but come winter, frozen ones are just fine too. Enjoy!
Fresh Baby Butter Beans in Cream
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic pod
1/2 cup cooked diced smoked ham
2 cups chicken stock
1 small bay leaf
Pinch of brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound fresh baby Lima beans
1/2 to 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons fresh chopped chives
Sort through the fresh beans removing any that are hard or discolored. Rinse well. Even fresh beans will cook faster if they are soaked in cold water overnight in the refrigerator. Just rinse again under running water when ready to cook.
In a 3 quart saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter or use olive oil if desired over medium high heat. Add the onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are wilted. Add the chicken stock, bay leaf, brown sugar, salt, pepper and ham. Bring to a rapid boil, reduce to medium high simmer and cook for 30 minutes stirring occasionally adding water as needed. This is where you want the vegetables to really render out.
Strain the liquid into a bowl discarding the vegetables and ham. Return stock to the pan, add the butter beans and add enough water to cover beans by 2 inches. Bring beans to a boil, reduce to low and simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Check seasonings; add salt and pepper if needed and continue cooking for 15 to 20 minutes or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom.
Drain beans well.
Return beans to the saucepan. Add the cream and remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Heat thoroughly and stir to thicken creating a creamy sauce. Stir in the chives and if desired, a tablespoon or two of minced ham. Serve hot.