Cooking Pole Beans, New Southern Style

Ain’t nuttin’ finer than a pot of pole beans.

Well, ‘cept maybe a pan of stewed yellow summer squash sitting pretty next to our favorite skillet of fried summertime fresh corn. Dag nabitt, I done got myself all hungry again.

Now, if you have not prepped a mess of pole beans before, well, you are in for a treat. Getting ’em ready is as rewarding as eating ’em, I mean, the process helps our sanity, don’t you see. I know there are many of you who remember time spent a few years ago shelling peas and snapping beans, a time spent that has passed our hurriedly society just as quickly as time marches forward.

“Snapping beans” is term used by mothers, grandmothers and generations before our now youth who at first thought, might think the term represents a new logo, web site or even a up-and-coming music act . . . I am just guessing here.  But I do know that back in my youth, sitting around, shelling peas and snapping beans was our way of ‘networking’, from the front porches catching up on gossip, sitting ’round the TV watching Lucille Ball, Jack Benny or  even Red Skelton, or in the kitchen waiting for the pot to boil. It was our early form of social media, with the likes of Skelton’s antics taking center stage if only for the amount of time until the ‘mess of beans’ were finished.

The beans actually do make a snapping sound, almost like a homemade pop-gun. And, to do justice, there is an art in snapping pole beans, as taught by our older generation and passed down, now to us. Start with the stem end and break away or ‘pop’ off the top and strip the string down on one side. Turn it over and pot the end followed with removing the string on that side. Then, break or snap the beans into one-and-one half to two-inch sections. As told, if there is not a string on the first run or side, then go ahead and snap into sections. The younger the beans, the less strings.

Fresh Pole Beans

Fresh pole beans should make a healthy snapping sound. When you pop off the ends, if it has a string attached, just pull down both sides of the pod to remove it.
 

the ‘ends and strings’ from Pole Beans

This is how I now cook pole beans, I mean, no one in my family used olive oil when I was growing up. It was all bacon grease and lard to ‘grease the pot’

Pole Beans
like Momma used to cook, only a little better for us 
6 to 8 servings

2 pounds fresh pole beans
1 or 2 slices thick-cut smoked bacon
Olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

Wash and prep the beans for cooking by ‘snapping’ off the ends, removing the strings and ‘snapping’ in about 1 1/2-inch sections. Drain well.

fresh ‘snapped’ Pole Beans

Cut the bacon in 1/2-inch slices and place in a stockpot over medium high heat. Cook the bacon until brown and crisp. Turn heat down and remove bacon with a slotted spoon to a small plate or bowl. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease. Add olive oil (about 1 good tablespoon), the beans and increase heat back to medium high heat. Stir to coat all of the beans in the oil cooking about 2 minutes. Add onion, salt, pepper, sugar and stir to combine. Add enough chicken stock to just about cover the beans; cover with lid. At boil, reduce heat to medium low and cook between 25 minutes to an hour, depending on how firm you like them. Most southerners cook them about an hour until the beans are really soft.

Add the vinegar and red bell pepper and turn off heat. Keep covered until ready to serve.

Serve with a sprinkle of the crispy bacon.

2 thoughts on “Cooking Pole Beans, New Southern Style

  1. claudia lamascolo

    Ok now I really just totally am amazed my mom and grandmom never thought of taking those dreaded strings off. I honestly used to choke on them take out the big beans in the center eat them and not the rest :0… this is the best tip ever! I will now eat pole beans again after all these years. Also the restaurant's in Upstate left them on too phooey! Love your beans!

    Reply
  2. Big Dude

    Good how to on a favorite dish. In WV, we would sting the beans and where I live now we break the beans. I guess there are many names for the same process. I grow Blue Ribbons, but we have to save our own seeds as they don't seem to be very available anymore.

    Reply

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