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Camellia Brand
great northern beans on a plate with a side of corn bread

Nellie Sullivan Knew How To Cook Northern Beans

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  • 2 (1 pound) packages Camellia Great Northern Beans
  • 1 ham hock, a big one with plenty meat attached
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Water; If you have access to well water from out in the country you’re a step ahead of the game
Total time:
2 hours, 10 minutes
Prep time:
10 minutes
Cook time:
2 hours


  1. Sort through and wash your beans
  2. Place in big kettle or crockpot with plenty water and ham hock
  3. Bring to boil
  4. Cook at boil for 1 hour
  5. Remove hock bone from cook pot, pull meat off bone, reserve, return bone to kettle
  6. Reduce heat and simmer until extremely tender
  7. Add reserved meat to beans
  8. They must be “cooked down” which is to say cooked until they are beyond soft. The beans and ham coalescing until they are virtually indistinguishable from one another. This is the one bean dish I make that receives this treatment. It’s important.
  9. Adjust flavors with salt and pepper

This dish needs to be served with a skillet of white meal cornbread hot from the oven. Please be observant of Mrs Sullivan’s tradition and put lots of cow's butter on your hunk of corn bread and wash the whole affair down with a big glass of ice cold cow’s milk.

This recipe hails from R.L. Reeves, Jr., a Texas photographer and writer who is living and documenting life in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. His recipe and cooking notes are from his food and culture blog,

Ingredients used in this Recipe

water salt pepper ham hock Camellia Great Northern Beans