Saturday, January 23, 2010

No Can of Beans

I really wrestled over this one. (and yes, this is a post about those good ole' beans you see there) But that's just the thing... this is anything but your traditional pot o' beans - even though all signs seem to point to a... uh... pot full of beans.

It was really my fault, though. I proudly announced to Chris that I was going to be testing out a new slow-cooker baked bean recipe. And as it happens, in this house, once you make such a pronouncement as "baked beans", you are expected to deliver.

So along I went gathering the incredibly inexpensive ingredients (including my continued obsession, dried beans, this time of the pinto variety) and suddenly I realized that what I had so confidently claimed were going to be baked beans... were surely going to be beans that were baked, but not of the type a certain person in our house was expecting.

Alas, I was convinced these beans were going to be good... different from that ubiquitous can of Bush's baked beans but possibly even more flavorful, just not in the same syrupy sweet way that our dear friend Bush's sometimes is. (and I mean absolutely no harm by that, I love a doctored up can of beans as much as the next)

And thus... after an overnight soak and a day's worth of slow cooking (all the while I barely lifted a finger)... the diced chilies adding their subtle heat, the gently sauteed onions and garlic imparting their savory flavors, and the beer adding just a bit of tang and earthiness... the verdict?

These were no can of sticky-sweet beans that you'd find on any grocery-store shelf. In fact, in both consistency and flavor, they most closely resemble the bean soup that many of our favorite Mexican restaurants serve. But as long as your expectation isn't the beans of "franks and beans", you'll be pleasantly surprised with these, the savory cousin to your favorite baked beans.

Drunken Beans (from The $7 a Meal Slow Cooker Cookbook)
serves 8

1 lb dried pinto beans
3 strips bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. bottle of beer
6 c water
4 oz. can diced green chiles
2 c chunky salsa
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 c chopped cilantro (optional)

Sort through beans and rinse thoroughly. Cover with water and let soak overnight.

When ready to cook, fry bacon in a skillet until crisp; drain on paper towel, crumble, and refrigerate. Cook onions and garlic in bacon drippings until crisp-tender. Drain beans and add to your slow cooker along with the onion mixture, beer, and water. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours until beans are tender.

Stir beans and add crumbled bacon, chiles, salsa, salt and pepper. Cover and cook 1-2 hours longer until beans are very tender.

What? You haven't tried cooking dried beans in your slow cooker? What are you waiting for? Just don't add any ingredients high in salt or acid until your beans have softened.


  1. I need that book! My grandmother always made pintos for me, and I haven't had a good bowl of them for many years. This grown-up version sounds fabulous.

  2. There is seriously nothing better than a crockpot, a bag of dried beans and a variety of aromatics. You do nothing and the reward is ten-fold. Make a pot of rice and the meal is complete and perfect and not only that, you've eaten something pretty darn healthy and overall good for your body. These look delicious. Me and my pocketbook love bean dishes.


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