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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

I was very worried about dinner last night. In addition to beans in the slow cooker, we were to have spiced apple chicken sausage. I don't have a problem with baked beans and sausage, but after my toddler's proclamations of "Me no like sausage! Me no like beans!" at dinner last night, I thought we were in for a fight. I had eight hours in which to mentally prepare.

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

1 (16-oz) package dried navy beans
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup molasses
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 lb bacon

1. Rinse and sort beans. In a large saucepan, cover with water 2 inches above beans; let soak for 8 hours. Drain, reserving liquid. Bring beans to a boil in soaking liquid; reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Drain beans, reserving liquid.

2. Stir together onion, molasses, ketchup, brown sugar, salt, dry mustard, and pepper. Cut each bacon strip into 3 pieces. Place beans, bacon, and molasses mixture in a slow cooker, and cook on high for 1 hour. Reduce heat to low and cook 8 hours or until beans are tender, adding reserved bean liquid if necessary.

The Verdict: Whatever nasty things I've said about my crock pot in the past, I'll take back because it's an imperative tool to creating these fantastic beans. Oh, and Picky Cookie Monster shoved his father's hand away when he tried to feed him chicken sausage and said, "Me eat my beans. I eat just beans."

When I first put this recipe together, I was nonplussed as to how this pink, watery concoction would magically transform into baked beans. Baked beans are gooey and almost brick red. These beans were sickly pale and swimming in ketchup water. I also didn't think the ingredient amounts were going to cut it for any flavor. But having faith in the adorable Paula Deen, where this recipe originates, I patiently checked on bean progress all day.

I'm glad I did.

They were every bit as tasty, ooey-gooey, and dark caramelized bean and molasses mixture as I remember my mother's baked beans as being. In fact, the recipe says that it makes 6 to 8 servings--or it makes two servings for your husband and son and one big-ass serving for yourself. No, I didn't eat the entire crock. But I could have.

I did find that I used all of the reserved bean liquid. This was slightly annoying as the whole point of crock pot cooking is not having to babysit your food. Perhaps I'll start by using half of the liquid when I turn the temperature down to low the next time I make it. (I know my aunt's recipe calls for 8 cups of water from the get-go.) I'll let you know...because there will definitely be a next time!

By the way, I just hooked up my camera to upload my bean pictures and discovered they weren't there! Wah! I'm not sure what happened and I apologize for the lack of picture.

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