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Christmas Lima Beans with Caramelized Onions & Bacon


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Rate this recipe 4.6/5 (9 Votes)


  • ◾1/2 lb Christmas lima beans, soaked in cool water to cover by 2 inches for 4 – 8 hours
  • ◾4 slices good-quality bacon, diced
  • ◾2 and 1/2 medium onions, divided
  • ◾2 celery stalks, diced
  • ◾2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • ◾salt & freshly ground pepper
  • ◾3 tbsp red wine, or water, for deglazing
  • ◾1 and 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • ◾1 tbsp cornstarch (optional, for thickening pot liquor)


Adapted from


Step 1

1.Transfer beans and their soaking liquid to a medium saucepan; add more water to cover by 1 inch (if necessary) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer, covered, until beans just begin to soften, about 30 – 60 minutes.
2.Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, fry the bacon until crisp, stirring occasionally; pour the bacon + grease into a metal strainer suspended over a heat-proof bowl (to capture the bacon grease).
3.Dice ½ an onion to ¼-inch cubes.
4.Add 2 tbsp bacon grease back to the skillet, heat until shimmering over medium heat, then add diced onion and celery. Sauté over medium-low heat until softened, about 3 – 5 minutes; add garlic and sauté another 2 to 3 minutes. Add vegetables to beans, stir, and raise heat to bring back to a simmer. Reduce heat again and simmer beans, covered, until tender, about another 45 – 60 minutes. At about 30 minutes, add 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste; I found these needed a lot of salt).
5.Meanwhile, slice the remaining onions into thin half-moons. Heat 2 tbsp of the bacon grease in the skillet over low heat (reserve remaining grease for another use). Sauté the onions, slowly, over low heat, until nicely browned and caramelized, about 30 – 45 minutes. Stir periodically, and add additional bacon grease or a touch of wine or water if onions begin to stick. When onions are done, add remaining red wine, chopped parsley, bacon, and a generous dash of salt and black pepper. Stir well and heat bacon through; keep warm over low heat or by turning off heat and covering pan.
6.When beans are tender, drain, reserving the bean broth. Return the pot liquor to the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil over high heat until reduced by half; whisk in optional cornstarch to thicken the broth (or continue to reduce). Taste broth and adjust salt & pepper.
7.Spoon beans into warmed bowls; ladle in a bit of reduced bean broth, and top with caramelized onion-bacon mixture. Garnish with a touch of fresh parsley. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
1.The original recipe called for Florida Butter Beans (which are dried baby lima beans) and 3/4 tsp of fresh thyme instead of parsley. The original did not call for reduction of the bean broth for a sauce; you can skip this step, but I thought it was quite delicious this way.
2.I would definitely make this again; for a completely local version (when I haven’t had the good luck to visit San Fran recently), I might try pinto beans or a smooth, creamy white bean. I bet it would be killer with fresh favas in season.


I expect these will be even better tomorrow. I will store the beans with their broth, and expect it will thicken nicely overnight and pick up some of the flavor of the bacon & onions. Yum. Should last up to 1 week refrigerated.

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