Shortround’s Beans

Spence was a Captain in the US Army when he met “Shortround”. He was a First Lieutenant in Spence’s command in Viet Nam; they served during 1969.

Years later, Spence reached out and located him living in Georgia with his wife Pat and family. They enjoyed many years of renewed friendship and Spence made more than a few road trips to visit. Shortround and Pat were great hosts and amazing cooks.  This recipe is based loosely on what Spence called Shortround’s Beans. I make it in a crock pot and the aromas that emanate for the next 12 hours are divine.

Shortround’s Beans  serves 8-12

  • 3 cans of beans – rinsed & drained (any combo – pinto, kidney, butter beans, black beans, great northern, cannellinis)
  • 1 ham shank (you may substitute ham, cooked bacon or pancetta)
  • 1/2 c chopped sweet white onion
  • 1/4 c chopped green pepper
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 c chopped tomato
  • 1/4 c dry vermouth
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t coarse black pepper
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • 3 c boiling water (you could use veggie, chicken stock or V8 juice)

Take out your crock pot/slow cooker. Rinse and drain the beans, place in the bottom of the slow cooker, top with tomato paste, vermouth and chopped tomato. Next nestle the ham shank on top, followed by the garlic, green pepper and onion.  Add the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.  Pour boiling water over the top and set crock pot on high for one hour.  Drop the heat to low for the next 11 hours.

Stir periodically. After 12 hours (or so) cooking time, remove the ham shank and pull the meat, as you would pulled pork (use two forks to shred) and add the meat back into the beans. Discard the bones.

All this meat from one ham shank, simply fell off the bone.
All this meat from one ham shank, simply fell off the bone.

Set out your soup bowls and hot sauce- if you want a bit more kick!


Enjoy with fresh bread – this is comfort food at it’s best.

Chef’s Note: To make this vegan/vegetarian, simply omit the meat.