There’s a scene from my favorite American television show, The Office, where one of the characters explains how he wakes up every morning to the smell of bacon:
He sets his alarm a few minutes early to cook bacon on a griddle, which he leaves on the floor by his bed. He falls back asleep for a few minutes, and then reawakens to the sound and smell of perfectly cooked, sizzling bacon.
He’s brilliant! Well, for the most part…
He ends up accidentally stepping on the hot surface with his bare foot. But he still got to enjoy his morning bacon.
I did something similar (excluding the foot injury) with this delicious recipe for slow cooker “baked” beans.
Busy gal that I am, I often cook food in my slow cooker overnight, so my meals are ready first thing in the morning.
And let me tell you, I woke up with my mouth watering…
Sugar plums dancing in my head? I think not. The intoxicating aroma of savory beans simmering throughout the night entered into my dreams, powerful enough to wake me from my slumber.
Slow cooking this dish makes a delicious sauce that’s super concentrated with flavor. The smell of bacon and onions, mixed with a sweet and savory sauce of tomatoes, molasses, and apple cider vinegar, wafted from the downstairs kitchen into every room of my entire home.
This recipe uses dried beans, which require just a little bit of extra labor with pre-soaking before cooking. You can use the overnight method, allowing them to soak in cold water in the fridge.
Strapped for time? Use the faster method of a quick-soak, by soaking them in boiling water for a couple hours. If you want to learn more, read our article on cooking with dried and canned beans.
Ready to make this low and slow version of a hearty side dish? Make the recipe now below!
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Soak the Beans
The night before cooking, rinse and sort the dried beans, discarding any small rocks. Transfer to a large container and pour in cold water until there is about 1 inch of water above them. Cover and soak overnight, or for at least 10 hours, in the refrigerator.
Be sure to use a container large enough to leave extra room, as they will swell overnight.
Hoping to avoid washing too many dishes? Soak the beans directly in your Crock-Pot covered with plastic wrap. Simply add the other ingredients to the slow cooker the next day. Just be sure to mix everything with a with a wooden or rubber spoon to avoid scratching the nonstick coating.
Alternately, for a quicker method to save some time, you can quick-soak them for about an hour or two using boiling water.
Not only does pre-soaking help to soften the beans, it also helps to reduce gas when digesting!
Step 2 – Prep the Ingredients
The day of cooking, gather all of the remaining ingredients needed for the recipe.
Chop the onions and jalapeño. Don’t forget to wash your hands thoroughly after handling the chopped hot peppers!
Note: If you own a slow cooker that has a sear option, like the Breville Fast/Slow Cooker (review coming soon!), you can cook the peppers and onions until translucent/browned for even more flavor.
Step 3 – Cook the Bacon
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring frequently, until it is slightly cooked and some of the fat has rendered out.
Don’t overcook it, as it will continue to brown more thoroughly in the slow cooker. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Step 4 – Make the Sauce
Step 5 – Combine
Drain the soaked legumes and place in the bottom of your Crock-Pot. Mix in the bacon, jalapeno, and onion.
Pour the sauce over the dry ingredients. Mix together. Season with salt and pepper.
Step 6 – Cook and Serve
Cover and cook on low heat for about 6 to 8 hours, or until tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened.
A Hearty Side Dish, Slow-Cooked to Perfection
Take advantage of the amazing slow cooker to make delicious meals overnight, like we did with this sweet, sour, and savory baked beans dish.
But avoid the foot injury and keep the kitchen equipment where it belongs – in the kitchen. Trust me, the aroma will definitely fill your entire house!
And don’t forget to read our tips for using your Crock-Pot to get the tastiest and juiciest results!
How do you like to make this comfort food classic? Do you prefer dried or canned legumes? Any secret ingredients to make them extra special? Please, feel free to share in the comments below.
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Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Nikki Cervone
Nikki Cervone is a full-time cheesemonger and specialty foods buyer living in Pittsburgh. Nikki holds an AAS in baking/pastry from Westmoreland County Community College, a BA in Communications from Duquesne University, and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University. When she's not nibbling on her favorite cheeses or testing a batch of cupcakes, Nikki enjoys a healthy dose of yoga, wine, hiking, singing in the shower, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate.