Dry pinto beans and chunks of ham or ham hocks cook all day long with plenty of seasonings in your slow cooker for the perfect dinner. Perfect with homemade cornbread!
[I]s there anything else better than a big bowl of comfort food? I think not. Pile up a giant bowl of creamy salty cumin filled bean goodness and slather some honey butter on homemade cornbread and I’m done for. Burp me and put me to bed please.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a fancy steak dinner, but lately I’m in an “all I want to do is curl up in bed and not move for 10 hours” kinda mood. Maybe it’s the weather, or maybe this is just the way my non-caffeinated self is going to have to exist for a while until it realizes I’m serious about this gig.
Let’s talk dry beans shall we? Dry beans are awesome. And sometimes they can be finicky. As in the “rock hard I’m never going to be edible” kind of finicky. And I’ve spent years trying to figure out all their quirks.
Let’s talk about the things that you should never EVER do. You see dry beans have a lifelong feud going on with acids of all kinds. Think Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny kind of feud.
Elmer is basically any kind of tomatoes, vinegar, lemon, lime, orange (are you catching my citrus drift here?) oh and also molasses. Molasses is not an acid but it has a ton of calcium which apparently doesn’t jive with them either.
Imagine a tomato headed version of Elmer sentencing your bouncy little Bugs Bean to a slow and agonizing death by boiling for hours and hours. Not pretty.
Long story short, cook your dry beans alone first and then add all their acid loving and molassesy friends once they are good and soft.
There is also the bidness of salt to consider. Whoa. You wanna talk about opening the throes of the internet….just start talking about whether salt toughens your beans or not. Word.
Turns out according to much smarter sources than I, that salt is actually not your enemy. However from years of training I still don’t salt mine until about 3/4 of the way through cooking. I think it results in a great bowl of beans if I do say so myself.
I’m a big advocate of simple recipes so I don’t use any fancy tricks BUT if you really struggle with tough beans here are a couple ideas.
1. Add a 1/4 tsp of baking soda before you start cooking them (I don’t because it makes them slightly less nutritious according to some sources)
2. Run your tap water through a water filter before you use it to soak and/or cook your beans
3. Buy new beans (beans older than 12 months will be tough almost always and may NEVER soften no matter how long they are cooked)
I made this recipe in our amazing new Stove Top Safe Programmable Slow Cooker from Hamilton Beach. I’m so excited to tell you about it because I cannot even begin to express how much I adore this slow cooker. I get sent a lot of products because of our blog and many of them do not make the cut and get passed on. This one though? Oh my gosh.
I don’t mean to yell but it’s STOVE TOP SAFE!!!!!!! No more browning pans to wash!!
Also? It’s NONSTICK! Goodbye hours of soaking out crusty inserts or buying those expensive slow cooker liners. I could seriously hug this thing. And in case you are wondering if I am qualified to make this recommendation I own THREE slow cookers. Yes I’m an addict. The other two are gathering dust in my conex box because this baby has taken over my kitchen.
And even better….one of you gets to win one too and make some of these tasty beans.
Get entered here and add this to your Christmas “must have” list. It’s awesome. These beans are awesome. Win win.
- 2 pounds dry pinto beans
- 2 onions, diced (optional)
- 1 cup chunks of ham or bacon or 1-2 ham hocks
- 32 ounces chicken or vegetable stock
- 64 ounces water
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- ½-1 tablespoon onion powder (if you add onions decrease to ½ tablespoon)
- ½ tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt (adjust based on saltiness of ham/bacon)
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- This recipe is extremely forgiving. Use what you have available! Canned beans can be substituted for dried and cooked on low for 2-3 hours for a similar result.
- Soaking option: soak beans overnight to shorten cooking time substantially.
- Add pinto beans, onions, ham/bacon/ham hocks, stock and water to slow cooker.
- Soaked: Cook on high for 5-6 hours.
- No-Soak: Cook on high for 10-12 hours. You may need to add additional liquid depending on your beans and the temperature of your slow cooker (they vary in intensity).
- I like to add my seasonings once the beans are noticeably soft but not completely broken down (about ¾ of the way through). If you are not going to be around you can add the seasonings at the start or at the end (read this great article on seasoning dry beans).
- Taste and adjust seasonings if needed before serving.
- Serve with homemade cornbread, honey and butter.
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