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fresh, snapped green beans (do not cook the whole)
uncooked bacon or ham hock
place the snapped beans in a large pot. cover beans with at least 2-4 inches water (over top of beans).
place all other ingredients in the pot (slice onion in half).
place pot on medium heat and bring to a slow boil.
here's the secret and the most important part of the recipe. cook the beans until they are very tender and have a dark green color.
when cooked properly, they will not be bright green. this should take from 1-2 hours (perhaps longer if you cook a larger quanity).
taste the beans during the last half hour of cooking for salt. they should have a distinct, but faint saltness. don't over do it but add salt, if necesarry
note:monitor the water in the pot very closely. you want to boil the water down to just a 1/2 cup or so, but do not allow the water to boil away.