"A pot of beans flavored with meat--sometimes just what you want." True. This recipe is not for the faint of heart--it includes both ham hocks and sausage. I was hoping it'd be like the beans at Margon, my favorite Cuban spot in NYC.
I didn't soak the beans, so they took forever (at least I think that's why they took so long). It works like this: you take the beans, cover them with cold water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and add the ham hock. I was using a trotter from Flying Pigs' Farms, purveyors of the finest pork I've ever had. It cost about four dollars, and was worth five times that in flavor. Easily.
While that simmers, brown the sausages all over in a skillet, pricking them to release fat. When they're nicely colored, and there's a good bit of grease in the pan, remove them and cut into small chunks (it's cool if they aren't totally cooked, they're going right back in a few minutes anyway). Sautee onions, garlic and red peppers in the sausage grease until soft, then remove, add the sausage back to the pan, cook it through until it's all nice and brown, then return the onion mixture back to the pan with thyme, bay leaves, allspice and tomato (I used canned, which worked great). Stand over the pot, trying not to eat all of this mixture with a spoon.
So now the meat in the beans should be pretty soft, and you can take it out and chop up the meat and return it to the beans if you like. When you do, also add in the sausage and veg mixture. From there, it's "anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on whether you soaked [the beans]." Apparently, though, it's more like 4 hours if you didn't soak the beans. Lesson learned, Bittman!
Enjoy with anything, really. I paired with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Roast Chicken with Cumin, Honey, and Orange, a salad we forgot to serve, and family friends.