Traditional Jersey Bean Crock

I’ve been battling a horrible head cold over the last two weeks, which has also gone through the whole family. Whenever I am sick, I always crave childhood comfort. This bean crock is definitely one of those must haves. My Mum is, or was, a Jersey girl (Channel Islands Jersey, not US New Jersey), and every Jersey girl has her own bean crock recipe (so I’ve been told). I did go to school for a little while in Jersey, but I don’t think that’s enough to classify me as a ‘Jersey girl’.

The traditional bean crock used dried and smoked ingredients stored for use during the winter months when the availability of fresh produce was buried beneath the frost or snow and when fridges and the local shop did not exist. It is cooked in a clay crock pot hence the name bean crock. It’s basically a French peasant dish, but I’d dare not say that to a Jerriais person!

Ingredients

  • 1 smoked shank or ham hock (originally pig trotters were used)
  • 4 tins of beans (I used cannelleni, kidney, haricot and butter beans) – normally I would soak dried beans in water overnight, but as I’m ill with two kids under four years, I’m cutting corners goddammit)
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 litre water
  • 2 bay leaves and freshly ground pepper

I don’t have a crock pot, but my trusty enamel coated cast iron expensive French casserole dish is perfect. Add the smoked shank and pour over the chicken stock and water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Open the bean tins and rinse under water. Add them to the smoked shank with the bay leaves and pepper. Simmer for a couple of hours.

Bring to the boil
Bring to the boil and simmer for two hours

Remove the smoked shank and let it completely cool. Remove and throw away the fat layer. Cut off the meat and cut or shread in to small pieces. Return the meat to the beans and stir through. Bring the dish to the boil again and simmer with the pot lid off for another thirty minutes until the liquid has thickened and reduced.

Simmer for another thirty minutes
Simmer for another thirty minutes

I did add a couple of handfuls of spinach leaves as I feel funny if I don’t get some greens in to me, especially as I’m sick.

Serve with fresh bread
Serve with fresh bread

I’ve just realised that this is the second smoked shank soup recipe I’ve added to this blog (smoked shank and pearl barley soup). I think I’m going to have to follow up with a pea and ham soup too – smoked shanks three ways!

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