2 to 2 1/2 quarts


          Black beans, pinto beans and black-eyed peas are quite bland, and need a well seasoned stock with rich ham or meat flavor, particularly when used in relishes. This is Dean Fearing's favorite stock for seasoning beans or black-eyed peas. If you have bones from a smoked turkey or game birds, save them and use them along with the ham bone. You may also use this stock for a Southern flavor when you cook vegetables like green beans.


1 ham bone, about 1 pound, including about 1 1/2 to 2 cups scraps, preferably from a smoked ham

Bones from smoked birds (optional)

1 small onion, diced

1 stalk celery, diced

1 small carrot, diced

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

3 serrano chilies, stemmed and halved

4 cloves garlic

1 cup cilantro leaves and stems

6 cans (14 1/2 ounces) chicken broth



          Put all the ingredients and 4 cups water in a large stockpot and heat to a boil. Skim the surface and then simmer for about 2 hours. Season to taste with salt. Strain, cool and refrigerate for 1 week or freeze in 1-quart containers. Or use immediately to cook beans or black-eyed peas.