Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Crockpot Baked Beans
Yesterday I promised a recipe for basic baked beans and I'm here to deliver! Can we just start by all agreeing that beans are good? We should all eat more of them. They are cheap (way cheaper than meat these days), they are an excellent source of fiber and protein, can be made into a million different dishes, they freeze well and they just get better the second or third day. Leftovers are a snap to re-use or eat up.
Now, cooking beans can take a long time, which makes the crockpot an especially smart tool for the job. Beans that are cooked long and slow have the best texture.
Here is how I cook my beans:
Pick through and rinse 1 lb of dried beans (I used small white beans). Put them in a bowl and cover them with water. Let soak overnight.
The next morning, drain and rinse the beans. Put them in a crockpot and pour water over them until there is about an inch above the beans. Turn the crockpot on high. Check it after 4 hours and see if you need more water. Mine usually take about 6-7 hours to get all the way done. You want to cook your beans until they are tender and soft, completely done. I know, I know....we haven't added any of the flavorings yet. Stick with me here, I promise this works.
When your beans are done and most of the water is absorbed, like this:
Chop up 6-8 slices of bacon and start rendering it in a pot.
Chop 1 small/medium onion (it's up to you, we like the onion flavor so I used a medium onion) and add it to the bacon. Continue to cook on medium low heat.
To this add: 1 1/2 cups ketchup, 1/4 cup molasses, 1 Tablespoon dry mustard, 1 Tablespoon salt (more or less to taste), 1 teaspoon black pepper and 1 cup brown sugar. You want to heat this mixture up so when you add it to your crockpot the temperature never goes down. This will help your beans cook a little faster.
When this mixture is up to a simmer, add it to your pot-o-beans. You may need to drain off a little water if there is too much. Remember, you can add water but you can't take it away. Runny beans are not what you're going for here. You want them to be nice and thick.
Throw in a nice big chunk of ham and let them cook for 1-2 hours. These beans will be thick, meaty and delicious!
I do have a couple variations on this basic recipe, although you should feel free to change them up however you want, these are just some ideas to get you started.
1) BBQ Baked Beans~ replace the ketchup, dry mustard and molasses for 1 3/4 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce.
2) BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger Beans~ add 1 lb of cooked, crumbled ground beef to your BBQ beans along with the sauce. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese on top.
3) Make the regular recipe, but omit the ham. Instead, chop a package of hot dogs and add them to your beans along with the sauce. Crockpot beanie weenies!
4) Make the BBQ beans and add what's left of a crockpot pot roast and use it to fill a burrito. Homemade BBQ Beef and Bean burritos.
5) Make your beans spicy by adding some chopped, pickled jalapenos.
Beans may take some time, but if you use your crockpot most of that time you aren't doing any of the work. That's the kind of fast (s-l-o-w) food I can get behind ;)