This recipe is a variation of one my brother makes. These beans are an excellent accompaniment to enchiladas, or may be served as an entree, over rice. If serving them as an entree, I recommend adding a cup or more of cubed ham to the beans during the last hour on the stove. Adding the meat any earlier, tends to dry it out.
1 small bag of small southern red beans, or pinto beans (not red kidney beans)
1 large onion, cut into pieces
1 whole bay leaf
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon salt for cooking
2 large pieces of salt pork, or 2 smoked ham hocks
1 cup or more of cubed ham (optional - if serving as an entree)
Soak beans overnight in salted water. Remove any irregular beans. Place all ingredients in a large Dutch oven or soup-pot. Cover all with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on stove top for about three hours, or until the beans are tender. If adding ham cubes, do so during last hour of cooking time so the ham stays moist. Check often to ensure the beans don't stick to bottom of pot (add more water if needed).
Before serving, remove pork hocks (salt pork) and bay leaves with a slotted spoon, and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with a small amount of cooking liquid, over rice, or as a side dish.