If you aren’t using your slow cooker at least once a week, you may want to take a step back and evaluate the choices you’ve made in your life.
Seriously, slow cookers are a lifesaver. They are one of the easiest ways to create super-delicious, healthy, “one ingredient” meals with almost no work. Soups, stews, sauces, dips, even desserts (slow-cooker molten chocolate cake, anyone?) come together better in a slow cooker than through any other cooking method.
Perhaps the best use for a slow cooker, however, is to cook your own beans. Canned black and pinto beans taste fine… until you make them yourself in a slow cooker. I first tried this about a month ago and the difference is so shocking, I can hardly eat the canned beans anymore. Not to mention, slow-cooking your own beans is more economical and less processed. It’s a win-win-win. The way the garlic and onions mingle with the starchy beans, it almost taste like a delicious stew that is good enough to be eaten all by itself. Add them to a corn tortilla with some lettuce and it is the perfect meal.
Makes about 5 cups of beans
- 16 oz dried pinto or black beans
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- Salt, to taste
Loosely dice the onion and garlic and add them to your slow cooker with the dried beans and enough water to cover the beans by about 3 inches. It seems like a lot of water now, but the beans absorb tons of water as they cook. If this is your first time, it would be a good idea to keep an eye on the water level to make sure the beans haven’t run dry (not a good thing).
Go take an 8-hour break. These beans start to come together after about 5 hours and really hit their stride between the 7-8 hour mark. At this point, the onions & garlic are completely broken down and the beans become starchy and magical and delicious.
As I mentioned, these beans are good enough to be eaten all by themselves, but one of my favorite ways to serve them is, like pictured, on corn tortillas with lettuce.
NOTE: As a reader mentioned in the comments on this post, it may be dangerous to use a slow cooker with kidney beans. These particular beans (but not pinto or black) need to reach high temperatures to deactivate a toxin that is naturally present. See this article on Wikipedia for more, and please take care when cooking kidney beans!