In separate pots, soak the beans and the gammon or bacon overnight, or for at least several hours. Drain the beans, and in a pan of fresh water, boil them for 10–15 minutes. Drain them once more, and put in a large flameproof casserole together with the gammon or bacon, the pig’s trotters and the spare-rib chops. Add the bay leaf and the celery. Push a clove into each onion quarter and add to the pan. Cover with water, bring to the boil, skim any scum from the surface, and simmer, partially covered, for 2 hours, or until the meat and beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf, the celery and, if you can find them, the cloves and onion quarters. At this stage, the meat will have fallen away from the bones so remove as many bones as you can, together with the skin from the bacon knuckle, if you used one. Add the diced garlic sausage. Brown the chopped onion in the oil, but do not let it burn. Stir in the garlic and a couple of ladlefuls of cooked drained beans. Fry, and then mash with the back of a spoon. Stir this paste back into the stew to thicken it. Bring back to the boil, and season with pepper. Greens, boiled rice and a peppery sauce are traditional accompaniments.
© 1995 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.