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Southern Style Green Beans is a side dish that is often available in most restaurants across the south. Down here, it’s all about flavoring when it comes to good southern green beans.
The secret to perfectly seasoned green beans is a ham hock. This is the southern secret to delicious, fresh green beans. You can find ham hocks in the grocery store near other pork products. Sometimes they are cured or smoked.
If you can’t find ham hocks at your local grocer, don’t worry there are many substitutes you can use to get a similar flavor to your green beans.
Southern Style Green Beans
- 2 lbs. Fresh or Frozen Canned Green Beans (if using fresh remove the ends and cut into bite-size pieces)
- 1/2 small Vidalia Onion or yellow onion diced
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 small ham hock
- salt to taste
- If using fresh green beans, remove the ends. Then break each bean up into smaller bite sized pieces. If using frozen green beans this step is not necessary as they are already chopped for you.
- Place desired type of green beans into a medium stock pot along with onion, butter, black pepper, and ham hock.
- Cover with water.
- Heat on stove until the beans begin to boil.
- Cover, reduce heat to low-medium. Let simmer for approximately 30 minutes or until beans have reached desired tenderness.
- Remove ham hock and discard after cooking.
Ham Hock Substitutes: What to use if you can't find a Ham Hock?
- If you are unable to locate a ham hock at your local grocer, an alternative that we use here in the South is Goya Ham Flavored Concentrated Seasoning. Instead of adding the ham hock to the green beans, stir in one packet of Goya Ham Seasoning. For a more intense ham flavoring, two packets of Goya Ham Seasoning can be used.
- A better alternative to Goya's Ham Flavoring packets would be the Better Than Boullion Ham Base. I love their chicken base for soups so this would be perfect for southern style green beans as well. I would start with a teaspoon of the ham base in place of the ham hock in this recipe. The amount of ham base used may need to be adjusted based on personal taste preferences. I would not exceed 2 teaspoons of Better Than Boullion Ham Base for 2 lbs. of green beans.
- If you can't find a ham hock, Goya's Ham Seasoning, or Better Than Boullion Ham Base another alternative would be bacon (thick cut, preferred). Chop up two or three pieces of bacon. Cook the bacon until crispy in a large pot, the same one you are going to make your green beans in. Once the bacon is fully cooked add the green beans, onion, butter, and pepper. Cover with water and cook according to the directions above.
Sometimes it is difficult to find a ham hock. Even living in the south it can be a bit of a challenge to find a ham hock when you really need one. This is when it is important to know alternatives to use when you are in a pinch.
What can I use instead of a ham hock?
I keep a box of Goya Ham Flavored Concentrated Seasoning in my cabinet at all times for situations such as this. Maybe I forgot to pick up a ham hock at the store, couldn’t find one, or I’m just on a budget that week. Goya’s Ham Flavoring adds a good rich ham flavor to dishes such as southern green beans.
To substitute Goya Ham Seasoning in this recipe, start by adding 1 packed of seasoning to your pot of green beans instead of the ham hock. For a more intense ham flavoring, another packet of Goya Ham Seasoning can be used but do not exceed 2 packets for 2 lbs of green beans.
Better Than Boullion is a favorite brand of mine when it comes to seasoning. I love their bases for making soup, gravy, and savory meat dishes.
To substitute Better Than Boullion Ham Base for a ham hock in this recipe, I would start by adding 1 teaspoon of the ham base to the pot with the other ingredients. For a more intense flavor you could add another teaspoon of the Better Than Boullion Ham Base but I would not exceed 2 teaspoons of ham base for 2 lbs. of green beans.
Thick Cut Bacon
Lastly, another great alternative to using a ham hock would be bacon. I would prefer to use thick-cut bacon in this recipe but you could use any type of bacon you like.
To substitute bacon for a ham hock in this recipe: take two or three piece of bacon and cook it in the same pot you are going to cook the green beans. Cook the bacon until crispy. Once bacon is fully cooked, add the other ingredients to the pot. Do not drain the bacon grease as this is what will add the wonderful ham flavoring to your green beans. After adding the green beans, onion, pepper, and butter to your cooked bacon in a large pot, cover with water and cook according the directions above.