Smokey and Savory, Side Dish of Beans

Welcome to Our Sunday Café, we are pleased you stopped by for a visit. Today we are offering another delicious recipe from our kitchen. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did…

We enjoy beans. We usually have several kinds of cooked beans and bean dishes in the freezer, making it so easy to round out a meal. And since this is a second bean dish in less than a week, you can tell, our stocks had run low in the freezer!

As I have mentioned from time to time, it took me a long time to successfully cook beans. And I believe that it can be traced back to a dear Mother who only cooked them out of a sense of duty and the ease and availability of canned beans in every market. Canned beans are worth of pantry space and we use a lot of canned beans on top of the ones we cook. There are several recipes we make over and over, calling for canned beans.

Keep cooked beans on hand for the beginning of many great meals.
Slow cooker beans, so easy!
I have been making beans in this style since this original post-August 6, 2008. Before a camera, before readers, before I had the skills I have today. I have changed things up a bit because I no longer see cooking beans as a recipe, but more of a process, adapting to what you have on hand and getting a delicious kettle of beans in the process. You really cannot go wrong with cooking beans. Some folks prefer beans with a little broth if so cut back by a cup or so on the water. However I love broths, so my beans usually have some broth to spoon up and enjoy.

Sometimes beans are easier to digest with a bit of acid, for that you will find a suggestion to add a touch of red wine vinegar at the end of cooking time or at the table when serving.

Actually the less you do to beans, really the better they are.

Smokey and Savory, side dish of beans

adapted from: good cooks everywhere

Note, this recipe requires:  a 5 qt slow cooker

2 pounds small white beans, soaked overnight and drained
ham scraps, ham hock or smoked hock bones
1 large onion minced
3-4 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 large tomatoes OR the equivalent smaller ones
2 large potatoes OR the equivalent smaller ones
1/4 green pepper minced if desired
1-2 stalks celery minced if desired
1 T thyme leaves, crumbled
2 large bay leaves
2-3 t salt
2 qt water, brought to a boil but not mandatory
red wine vinegar, if desired

Don't waste the flavor, ham and beans are a natural pairing.
Richly browned ham, for extra flavor.

Dice and brown ham scraps, drain excess fat if needed.

Place smoked ham hocks at the bottom of the slow cooker. Add all carrot, onion, pepper, and celery (if using) thyme leaves and bay leaves. Add the drained beans.

Note:  this much food will fill the slow cooker to the top. But it does fit, and since the beans have been soaked, they are almost as large as they will be when completely cooked.

Every part of this dish comes together to create a delicious pot of beans.
Potatoes, tomatoes, and ham, add so much flavor to your beans. 

This is the last of the potatoes and tomatoes from volunteer plants we found growing in the garden.

Place the tomatoes and potatoes on top. Add the browned ham bits if using. Add salt starting with 2 teaspoons. Just barely cover with beans with boiling water, you need not worry about the tomatoes and potatoes. Bringing water to a boil is a new step but will ensure that you have tender beans in 8 hours on low.

When cooked, remove the potatoes and tomatoes and allow to cool. Fish out the ham hocks from the bottom of the cooker, let cool. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from the ham hocks, dice and return to the beans. Remove skin from the vegetables, mash with a fork and stir back into the beans. Taste for seasonings and correct if needed. If desired add 2-4 T red wine vinegar or offer the vinegar along with a bottle of hot sauce when serving, for those that like food a bit spicier!

Smokey and Savory, side dish of beans. Cook a pot of beans weekly.

And with that, you have a delicious pot of beans.


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  1. Looks Delicious! You inspired me the other day, and I have a crock pot of beans cooking right now. I'm looking forward to a bowl of beans (cooked with vegetables) with cornbread for supper.
    xoxo, Rocquie

  2. beans are one of my favorite side dishes bc we had them all the time growing up. I love your version. it is much different than mine and i can see how it packs alot of flavor

  3. I love adding bay leaves to beans. Not sure that frying pan of ham scraps would make it to the beans...I want to snack on that! Thanks for sharing.


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