Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Slow-Cooker Pinto Beans

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart...

Y'all know the rest, I'm sure. As a Southerner, I like my fair share of beans. Sadly, unlike most Southerners, I do NOT like lima beans or butter beans, which are just GIGANTIC lima beans, but are kind of off-white instead of the standard "lima green". 

I LOVE black-eyed peas, any sort of "white" beans like navy beans or Great Northern beans, but I also love pinto beans. Some people associate pinto beans more with Mexican food (they're "the" bean in refried beans), but pinto beans are also a truly Southern dish. 

You CAN buy them canned, but most people prefer to buy them dried and control the seasonings. Plus, dried beans are way cheaper! As with my black-eyed peas, cooking dried pinto beans is easy as long as you soak the dried beans overnight, and remember to use your slow-cooker!

As always with Southern beans, the flavor comes from some good old-fashioned pork. Vegetarians and vegans can easily get around this by using something like a mushroom base or just omitting the pork completely!

Slow-Cooker Pinto Beans
adapted from Paula Deen

1 lb dry pinto beans
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 lb salt pork, cut into cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder

Rinse and sort the beans, removing any stones or other "non-bean entities". Drain, cover with fresh cold water, and soak overnight. I like to soak my beans IN the slow-cooker. Then, the next morning, I simply drain the beans, give the slow-cooker pot a quick rinse, and go from there. No extra dishes to clean!

Drain the soaked beans and add to the slow cooker. Add the chili powder and oregano. 

Brown the salt pork cubes in a skillet, then add to the slow cooker along with any rendered fat. 

Add the onion, bay leaf and 4 cups of water. Stir to combine, then cover and cook on HIGH for 5 hours, or LOW for 7-8 hours or until the beans are tender. 

Season with the salt, pepper and garlic powder. Remove 1 cup of beans, mash with a fork, and return to the slow cooker. Serve hot. 

If you have lots of extra beans - they freeze REALLY well! 

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