This Texas Pinto Beans with Ham Hock Recipe is one we finally put down on paper a few years ago. As in most kitchens across the country, these recipes are passed down. And the measurement of ingredients was not a hard fast rule, it was kinda up to the cook’s taste buds on that given day.
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We grew up eating pinto beans at almost every meal. Other than breakfast, our menu was always pinto beans with ham hocks, fried tators, (not to be confused with french fries) macaroni and canned tomatoes served with a big cast iron skillet of cornbread.
A pot of beans was always a staple at our house growing up, I really don’t remember when mama didn’t have a pot of beans on the stove. Mama used ham hocks in her pinto beans, I’m sure because ham hocks were cheap and money was tight when I was a kid. And mama didn’t call these Texas Pinto Beans nor did she consider using ham hocks a special ingredient in her recipe, I think it was her way of giving us a little extra protein.
After I left home, it was years and years before I could eat pinto beans, in my mind they were a poor mans food and I linked that to rough financial times. That and biscuits and gravy, I know, we crave that stuff now. But when we had biscuits and gravy when I was a kid it was because mama didn’t have bacon nor eggs in the fridge and she never bought dry cereal.
Of course, I outgrew all this and realized my childhood was nothing to be ashamed of nor run from, it was like so many other childhoods during that time. We were raised by parents that grew up in the depression era and they made every penny count. Today I am proud of my childhood history and the fact that my children had a life so much easier.
I also realized it was hard to eat a plate of BBQ without a side of beans and who can live in Texas without a plate of Texas Brisket with a good size helping of beans on the side.
And I married my sweet food loving hubby who craves pinto beans so we begin cooking them again. And he is my seasoner, he is the one that does the taste test for salt, flavorings etc and he is always right.
So we took pen to paper and with our cast iron dutch oven, we wrote the best Texas Pinto Beans with Ham Hock Recipe. We follow this to a tea and it’s always great. We have even doubled it and it works.
Did you know that pinto beans are in fact very healthy food? Loaded with fiber, protein (15 grams per 1 cup)? I now view these beans as comfort food embedded deep in our Texas roots and I think a little of mama making ends meet with this big pot of beans, where she filled our bellies with good food even though her wallet was sometimes empty.
And who knew all that much used worn out kitchen items, furniture and decorating items that mama used until they fell apart to save money are now treasured and are called shabby chic.
Down Home style of pinto beans, seasoned with spices and flavored with Ham Hocks
Clean beans by removing any little rocks or debris. Rinse beans well and place in a large dutch oven, fill with water and let soak overnight or at least 3-4 hours
Drain and rinse, add enough water to cover beans and bring to a boil. Drain, rinse and add enough water to cover the beans again. These steps will remove the gas from the beans and will reduce cooking time.
Bring them to a boil then lower heat to just a simmer, add the whole ham hock, chopped onion, garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin. On a low simmer cook for one hour and then begin checking for doneness, adding more water as needed
Wait to salt to taste when the beans are barely tender for two reasons, the ham hocks may add enough salt and the beans will get tender faster without the salt.
Before serving, remove 1/2 cup of beans, mash and return to the pot for thicker juice.
Texas Pinto Beans with Ham Hock Recipe is great served with:
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