Pressure Cooker Senate Bean Soup

Pressure Cooker Senate Bean Soup

Bean soup is on the menu in the U.S. Senate’s restaurant every day.

No one is exactly sure why this tradition started, but since 1903, U.S. Senate bean soup has been served in the Senate dining room every day - the only mandatory recipe on the menu.
The only exception, according to Senator Elizabeth Dole, as told to her by her husband, Bob Dole, was in 1943, during World War II rationing. It only happened for one day, and then bean soup was back on the menu.

Senate bean soup a simple recipe - navy beans, ham hocks (or ham and a hambone), onions sauteed in butter, and salt and pepper. “The Senators like their soup straightforward” said Don Perez, the Senate dining room’s executive chef back in 2003.

I’m taking a couple of liberties with the soup - Chef Perez admitted he adds a little garlic - and a recipe attributed to Senator Fred Dubois in 1903 includes mashed potatoes and parsley. I’m skipping the potatoes, but the parsley adds a splash of color that I can’t pass up.

So, why bean soup? Because I will have a ham bone and leftover ham from Easter dinner. (I’m notorious with my in-laws for taking bones home with me from family dinners.) This recipe was invented to use up leftover ham. (Well, I don't know that for sure...but it looks like what the Senate's chef would do the day after serving ham.) That said…the pictures have a (huge) smoked ham hock from my butcher. Don’t be afraid to use leftover ham; this recipe was made for it.

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Senate Bean Soup

Grilled Ham with Honey Bourbon Glaze

Grilled Ham with Honey Bourbon Glaze

My wife’s family is coming over for Easter. And my wife, the ham fanatic, insisted on a double smoked ham from Sherman Provision.

Lucky for her, I ordered two - one for Easter dinner, and another for this blog post. One of the weird side effects to blogging is you get two holiday meals - the actual holiday, and the one you cook a few weeks ahead of time for the blog.
This is a problem when the recipe doesn't quite work and I have to cook it a few times to get it right. "Daaad, do we haave to have Thanksgiving turkey agaaain?"

This time I got it right. My wife and kids started circling as I brought the glistening ham in from the grill. I had to beat them back with my grill spatula to get the pictures for this post - they kept trying to pick pieces of the crust off while I was setting up the camera. Once I had my pictures, I started carving, and for a while I couldn’t keep up with them. About a quarter of the ham disappeared from the cutting board before I put the knife down and asked if we could actually sit down to eat. They slunk off and set the table.
When I turned my back, my wife grabbed another piece of ham.

So, here is my easy grilled ham, glazed with honey, bourbon, and mustard. Cook it low and slow until the ham is reheated, brush it with a few layers of glaze, then carve and serve.

Recipe: Grilled Ham with Honey Bourbon Glaze

Dad Cooks Easter Dinner 2014

I have to confess. My Easter tradition is ending our Lenten fast with a charcoal grilled steak after midnight mass, accompanied by the best bottle of red wine we have in the house. Or, should I say, that was my tradition. We’re a 7:30AM mass family now - with the kids, we have not gone to midnight mass in over a decade.

That doesn't mean I gave up on my Easter Eve steak. This year? A thick cut ribeye with asparagus, baked potatoes, and my last bottle of 1997 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
And, with that bottle, I'm out of great wine. Someday I’ll get back to wine country. Until then, it’s cheap wine for me.

For Easter itself, the main course comes down to: are you a ham or lamb person? Either makes a great centerpiece for the dinner table. Here are some of my recipes:

PicOfTheWeek: Thin sliced peppers and onions

PicOfTheWeek: Thin sliced peppers and onions, ready to top a steak on the grill. (Recipe coming soon.)