If you are using dried beans, this recipe needs to be started the night before. For a vegetarian version, omit the ham hock and use smoked paprika instead.
Cooked beans can be kept for up to three days in the fridge. If you wish to keep them longer, divide the beans into meal size portions and freeze.
* If making the vegetarian version, the beans may be ready sooner. Vegetarian beans are ready when the sauce has thickened nicely. The meat version of these beans are ready when the meat can easily be pulled from the ham hock. Check the beans occasionally during the cooking time, and if they seem dry, add some more water to continue the cooking process.
The Shortcut Version:
If you don't wish to cook the beans, use 3 x 400g tins of drained and rinsed cannellini beans in place of the dried beans. The onions can be cooked as detailed above, or can be replaced with 1/2 cup caramelised onions
. Warm the onions in the pot, then continue as detailed in the recipe above.