This is a long time favorite in our family, my wife & I grew up with "old fashioned ham & beans" as a staple with our families. We've added the brown sugar recently & find it a good addition as long as it's not overdone. There's no special preparation tips, even I can do this easily! We always use a 6 qt. pressure cooker for ham & beans, a slow cooker or large pot on stove top will work well, but for simplicity and overall "top of the line taste", nothing beats a pressure cooker! With all ingredients added, the lid placed on and pressure up to 15 lbs. it's 40 to 45 minutes to "ready to eat"!
Preparation is very simple & uncomplicated. Go to your local butcher shop and ask for pork leg shanks, pork hocks will work (although they don't have enough meat for us) & of course, a chunk of bone-in ham is excellent. The key is, get as much bone as you can, this is the magic in "great ham & beans"! The leg shanks are perfect because of the leg bones, they're usually 10 to 12 in. long, have the butcher cut them in half or you can do it at home with a meat saw, this exposes more bone ends & marrow (the flavor catylist). If they're good shanks two or three will do a large pot of ham & beans. We like brown pintos & white great northerns, we use a 50/50 mix, any bean combination will work fine, "Don't stir the pot too much"or the white beans will become "mushy", doesn't hurt but beans should be whole. **Soak beans overnite in water with 1/4 cup of vinegar (Key ingredient for "removing gas") Have the beans well covered with water for soaking-remember they expand quite a bit and you don't want them to expand above the water level.