Recipe: Pinto Beans and Ham Hock

This recipe is courtesy of Jenny McGruther of the Nourished Kitchen. This recipe can be found in her new book, Broth and Stock, which is available now at Amazon or other online retailers.

"The most vivid memory I have of my grandmother’s kitchen is of hurriedly eating sandwiches of white bread and margarine over the sink. Despite her lack of culinary prowess, my grandmother did make one dish and one dish very well: pinto beans and ham hock. Its simple ingredients and easy approach make it perfect for a novice cook or a harried one.

The combination of ham hock’s natural sweet smokiness paired with the earthy and humble flavor of pinto beans make a satisfying, full-flavored meal."


  • 3 cups dried pinto beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon lard or bacon fat
  • 1 white onion, peeled & chopped
  • 2 ham hocks, about 2 pounds
  • Finely ground sea salt

Pour the beans into a mixing bowl, cover with warm water by 2 inches, and stir in the baking soda. Soak for at least 8 and up to 18 hours, then drain and rinse them well.

Melt the lard in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Stir the onion into the hot fat and sauté it until fragrant and translucent, about 8 minutes. Drop the ham hocks into the pot and then stir in the beans. Pour enough water into the pot to cover its contents by 2 inches and simmer, covered,over medium-low heat until the beans are soft and the meat falls away easily from the bone, about 3 hours.

Remove the ham hock from the pot and, when it’s cool enough to handle, pull any meat that still clings to it off the bone, and stir it into the pot of beans. Season the beans with salt to taste, ladle into soup bowls, and serve hot.

Reprinted with permission from Broth & Stock from the Nourished Kitchen, written and photographed by Jennifer McGruther, 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.