For my 23rd wedding anniversary I made my husband Mexican posole stew generously heaped with lima beans. Most people don’t associate limas with occasion dining, but this is a dish we love.
It’s too bad that lima beans have a bad rap. Stories about cooking with them invariably start with a line like, “Who says you can’t love lima beans?” which implies they shouldn’t be a favorite food.
It’s not fair. I have loved limas ever since I was introduced to them through my mother-in-law’s succotash. Paired with fresh corn right from the garden, a pinch of butter and a dash of salt, they are the best taste of summer In Delaware, limas are everywhere, much of which is commercial production. But in addition, the First State is home to local varieties called pole limas that are grown nowhere else. These are found only during the season at farmers markets or from a friendly neighbor willing to share his or her bounty. So they are particularly prized.
“There’s absolutely nothing better than a fresh-picked batch of pole lima beans,” attests University of Delaware Cooperative Extension agent Emmalea Ernest. “My four year old daughter just gobbles them up.”
Closer to home, another testimonial comes from my husband Michael, a native Delawarean. He says “pole limas are a passion. It’s like eating scrapple – it’s how I grew up. Everyone around us grew them and we put them into everything.”
Which brings me back to posole. The rich, savory aroma of roasted pork warms the house on a fall or winter day. The chipotles and ancho peppers add layers of flavor and the limas bring great texture and body. It’s a dish not to miss.
So unlike the day when school cafeterias cooked the life out of limas and they lay on the plate sodden and pale, try posole with pole limas and never again will you say “we have to eat our limas” like it’s a punishment.
Pork Posole with Lima Beans
2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2 inch chunks
4 cups canned hominy drained and rinsed
1 large onion, chopped
28 ounce can whole tomatoes, cut up with juice
2 cups lima beans
2 dried ancho peppers and 4 guajillo peppers, rehydrated and chopped 1 chipotle pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 Tbs Mexican oregano 1 Tbs ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime cut into wedges
In a large stewpot, brown meat in batches with a little olive oil. Remove and sauté onions in the same pot. Combine all ingredients except the garnishes in the stewpot and cook on medium heat for one hour. Ladle into bowls for serving and top with cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges.