I usually don’t pull my slow cooker out during the summer months. Which is kind of backwards if you think about it. Summer would be the perfect time to use it since it would mean I don’t have to turn my oven or stove on and inevitably add more heat to my already warm (or sometimes hot) house. I think my avoidance has to do with the type of meals I think of when it comes to slow-cooking… Hearty ones perfect for colder months. But, I decided to use it earlier this month to make Baked Beans. I attempted to make them last summer, but, even after soaking my beans overnight and cooking them in my slow cooker for nearly 10 hours my beans didn’t soften. This year I tried a new recipe and a short-cut to soaking my beans and the finished product was one just as delicious as some of the famous canned ones available at your local supermarket.
To save time, I diced the bacon and onion needed for the recipe the night before. To easily dice the bacon I placed it in the freezer for about an hour so it could firm up.
While most slow-cooker recipes for baked beans call for you to soften your beans by soaking them in water for 10 to 12 hours prior to cooking, I opted to take a short-cut. Instead, I rinsed them and placed them in a covered pot with water and brought them to a boil over medium-high heat. After letting the beans boil for 15 minutes, I removed the pot from the heat and let the beans soak in the water for about an hour. After an hour I drained the beans.
Once the beans were ready I layered the ingredients in the slow cooker. I spread the bacon on the bottom of my slow cooker, I then placed the beans over the bacon and finally I sprinkled the onions over the beans. I turned my slow cooker on to the low setting and covered it while I made the sauce.
To make the sauce, I whisked together water, tomato paste, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard in a large bowl until smooth. I poured the sauce over my ingredients in the slow cooker and covered it again and let it cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. You do not need to stir your ingredients together for this recipe. As the beans cook the flavors will develop and once the beans are ready you will give everything a good stir then.
At the 6 hour point I tasted the beans to check on the flavor and the doneness. I thought the flavor and tenderness of the beans was perfect. Unfortunately since I made these for my 4th of July BBQ I was crazed with getting things ready so I completely forgot to take a picture of the beans when they were done. But, trust me, they looked and tasted delicious!
Slow Cooker Baked Beans
1 pound dried navy, pinto or great northern beans*
1 pound thick-cut bacon, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cups water
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
*I used pinto beans
Go through the beans and pick out any debris or broken beans. Transfer the remaining beans to a colander and rinse with cool water. Transfer the beans to a pot and fill with water (a few inches above the beans) and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Let the beans boil for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let them sit covered for an hour and then drain.
Spread the diced bacon in a single layer in the insert of a slow cooker. Add the drained beans on top of the bacon and then the onions on top of the beans. Cover the slow cooker and set it to low. Do not stir the ingredients.
In a medium bowl combine the water, tomato paste, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard and whisk together until smooth. Pour the sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker.
Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
At the 6 hour mark check the beans for flavor and doneness. If need be add salt and pepper to taste.
Beans are ready when they are creamy and tender.
Once ready stir all of the ingredients together and enjoy!
Recipe slightly modified from The Kitchn