Saturday, February 4, 2012

Smoked Pork and Lima Beans - Simplicity Shines

This post is for my mom.  She had surgery on three discs in her neck this week.

So as a tribute to her, I smoked some pork neck bones.  You know, to send some BBQ karma her way.
Smoked pork and lima beans

Earlier this week, as soon as I got home from work, Trevor was bored and wanted to shoot baskets.  Alexis came home from work and saw us at the front of the neighborhood and snapped a few shots.  I sent a few to my mom, thinking it would cheer her up in her recovery...

My mom's neck bones may be recovering but there's nothing wrong with her funny bone.  Her reply was, "How many times have I told you to change your pants before you go out to play?"

This is also my third and final post about McCormick's 2012 Flavor Forecast, their annual focus on food trends and flavor profiles.  This time I set my sights on the trend: Simplicity Shines.
The most memorable food is often the simplest.  As cooks focus on highlighting quality ingredients with simple preparations, they have moved away from the clutter of complex presentations and flashy innovations.  Their creativity is mindfully balanced with a dose of restraint.  Clear, unpretentious flavors are an approachable celebration of the basics - and remind us what real food tastes like.
I took this one about as simple as one can get.  Just a handful of simple ingredients and a good dose of hickory smoke.

This process lets the pork take on the smoky flavor in a short smoke on the grill but saves some of the fat and connective tissues to break down during the simmer, adding flavor to the beans.

Smoked Pork and Lima Beans
Serves: 6

  • 1 lb pork neck bones 
  • 4 tsp kosher salt (divided)
  • 1 1/2 tsp McCormick's black pepper (divided)
  • 1 lb large lima beans (dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup carrot, finely diced
  1. Preheat a charcoal grill set up for smoking with indirect heat at 275f. (see notes for options)
  2. Season pork with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper.  Place on the grill to smoke for 1 hour.  For any thin strip pieces, fold them over to make them as thick as the other pieces.
  3. Meanwhile, use the "quick soak" method with the beans according to package instructions.  Drain the beans.
  4. Remove the pork from the smoker.  
  5. Place the pork, drained beans, bay leaf, 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a 3 quart pot.  Add 6 cups of water, bring to a simmer and cook (gentle simmer but be careful NOT to boil) with the pot lid on, but slightly open for an hour.
  6. Remove the pork shred the meat using two forks, discarding any bones or cartilage. 
  7. Return the shredded meat and add the carrots to the pot.  Cook another 30 to 60 minutes, until the sauce is thickened.  
Notes (options for smoking)
  1. Easy:  Use a standard charcoal grill with Kingsford Hickory briquettes banked to one side.
  2. Easier:  Skip the smoking and buy a smoked ham hock.  
  3. Gas:  Use Patio Daddio BBQ's tips for smoking on a gas grill.  
  4. Egg:  I used my Big Green Egg loaded with coal and two fist sized chunks of hickory buried near the top of the coal.  Platesetter in legs up, drip pan, neck bones on top of the cooking grid.
Pork neck bones shown are NOT in the anatomically correct position on the cutting board.

They are "cooked" at this point, but not "finished".  The magic happens as the connective tissue breaks down and mixes with the beans. 

smoked pork and lima beans recipe
Serious good comfort food that isn't a pain in the neck to make.

[Standard Disclaimer]  I received compensation from McCormick's representatives for promoting their 2012 Flavor Forecast but the opinions stated are my own.  I did NOT receive any compensation from the NBA for the mad basketball skills I display in the action shot.  Shame, isn't it?  I could have my own line of Nike dress shoes. 


  1. Nice and yummy post to your Mom!!:) Hope she will better soon, My momhad a surgery the last year and was hard, blessings

  2. Well she's right ... what the heck are you doing out there in those pants??? Too funny. I'd have to admit, I've never smoked, cooked, poached, fried or even purchased neck bones. All fun aside, my husband had surgery last summer and it takes awhile to get back to normal. Really takes it out of you. Wishing your mom a speedy recovery.

  3. LOL!Moms....But she is right about the pants;)We use a lot of pork neck bones in traditional Colombian soups!

  4. Your mom cracks me up. Hope her recovery is a speedy one. I've never used neck bones before. I imagine that smoking them first added a completely different (and much improved!) flavor to the standard pork and beans. Have a great weekend!

  5. Looks delicious Chris and I hope it aids in your mom's recovery. I've got some lima's on the menu soon but have to eat them all myself - Bev is not a fan.

  6. Chris,
    Some of those neck bones would sure make mine feel better! All the good wishes add up to a lot of heeling. Enjoyed the post and the re-run on the basketball shots-though I see you are still in your work pants:-)
    Thanks a bunch, Mom

  7. First things first: A speedy recovery to your mom!

    Secondly, seeing this sense of humor peppering your blog, I wonder what your holiday reunions must be like in your family...

  8. I've really missed visiting here Chris. Hope your mom is doing well!

  9. LOL.. your mom's response is exactly the same one my mom would have given me!!! That's too funny! I'm sure she will love the tribute... Hope she is feeling better soon!!!

  10. Ha ha!!! Once a mom, always a mom! I said that more than once to my boys! Simplicity shines, for sure! It looks delicious, my kind of food. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for Mon!

  11. I forgot, great sense of humor with the neck bones, what a hoot!!! Keep on, keep on!

  12. I hope your mom's surgery was successful and that she is having a good recovery. You are too funny to dedicate this dish to her!

    Beans are number one in my book. This looks like ultimate comfort food.

  13. Several thoughts occurred to me while reading this post:
    1. I hope your mom recovers 100%.
    2. Did she also ask if you remembered to take your shoes off when you walked in the house? Did you wash up before supper? Did you use a napkin because we all know you weren't raised by wolves in a barn!?!
    3. Neck bones??? As I learned from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the man may be the head of the house but the woman is the neck...and as the neck turns so does the man. I could not, would not eat neck bones.
    4. Nike dress shoes?!?! YES! Quit your day job and get busy! A combination of wing-tips and high-tops would look smashing!
    5. Not once did I think of Michael Jordon.

  14. I love your mom's comment - so funny!

    The soup looks wonderful. So comforting and tasty. I hope your mom heals quickly from her surgery.

  15. This looks so simple and yet so delicious! I'm wishing your Mom a speedy recovery, Chris!

    Kim in MD

  16. Listen to your. No street shoes on the gym floor! GREG

  17. Hope your Mom is doing well - wishing her a speedy recovery! My Dad would love this! He just about begs me to cook lima beans for him and I bet the pork adds a ton of flavor.

  18. Now, I know where you get your sense of humor.
    I hope your mom has a speedy recovery.

    Nothing beats a pot of beans and pork as comfort food.


  19. Just seeing this website. Yes, Momma is always right!...I love cooking lima's with smoked neckbone. Don't always have the time to smoke those myself. You can also use the ones that are in your grocery store. They are great. Just don't have the love we put into makeing our own...good eating

  20. Dear Chris: SO glad i STUMBLED UPON YOUR SITE TONITE. I so hope your down to earth, loving Mom is up & feeling better than ever; that you and your son are still challenging and each other with basketball hoops - work clothes or not; your recipe is the Best. At a friends house a few weeks ago I ate lima beans; could not stop eating them. She said her son-in-law made them (all she knew was they were cooked with some kind of pork. Crazy Good as your web site is. Good wishes to you and yours.


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