Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Taco Tuesday Side - The Best Beans Ever




Yesterday I posted the recipe for these chicken tacos and mentioned that I made the best beans ever to go with them. I'm not exaggerating. These were the best. beans. ever. I can never go back to canned beans again. 

Here are a few thoughts on the beans: I used this recipe for "Traditional Tejano Pinto Beans" but changed a few things based upon ingredients I already had at home. The recipe actually gave three different options for cooking: stovetop, slow cooker on high and slow cooker on low. I (surprise surprise) opted for the slow cooker method which let me leave the beans simmering all day and gave me the option to leave the house and tend to my toddler (I'm totally in love with my crockpot). The recipe said the beans would take 8-10 hours to cook using the low setting. Well, I ended up cooking my beans for twelve hours. Twelve! Thankfully I prepared them the day before we'd be eating them (I planned for disaster), but if you are wanting to eat them the same day, be sure to put them in early! Finally, the original recipe called for a ham hock to simmer with the beans (I was, like 65% sure this meant a ham bone). Well, I went to two different fancy markets and came away empty handed from their butchers - no ham hocks. I was set to use a slab of bacon instead when I had to make an impromptu run to our closest (and smallest) grocery store located in our small downtown. I figured since I was there, I'd ask about the ham hock. And what do you know, that small downtown grocery store had them! They came in a pack of two for $4.50, so I used one and froze one.

Now, besides the ridiculously long time these beans need to cook, they are very easy to make. The ingredients are literally just dumped into the crockpot, and that's it (besides a bit of mashing at the end). So, are you ready? First you need some dried pinto beans. I used the entire package of the Simply Balanced ones from Target, which amounted to three cups (but any brand of course will do). Rinse the beans and place in the slow cooker, then cover with one chopped onion, two cloves peeled garlic, and half a tablespoon of sugar. Next, throw in a jalapeño with a slit down the side (this will be discarded at the end and adds just a bit of spice and depth to the beans). 


Now you're ready for the liquid. The original recipe used chicken bouillon and water, but we buy this stock from Costco so I always have a ton. I used two quarts which was exactly two containers (gotta love a recipe that completely uses the packaged items!). Finally, I nestled in one ham hock and turned the crockpot on low. 

Literally we went about our day, and I checked on the beans every so often. At about the ten hour mark I was worried that the beans didn't seem cooked so I let them simmer longer. Finally at twelve hours, I realized that they were plenty cooked, but still swimming around in quite a bit of liquid. I began transferring the beans and liquid to a large glass bowl. The original recipe didn't call for any smashing, but I wanted my beans refried-style, so I grabbed a potato masher like this one and got to smashing. I ended up using a good amount of the leftover liquid, but not all of it (add depending on the consistency you want your beans). I wish I had saved some of the liquid, though, because the beans definitely soaked up the liquid overnight as they rested, and I would have totally added more of it the next day had I saved it. I discarded the ham hock and jalapeño (as for the garlic and onion, they just kind of dissolve after being cooked for so long!). Now, by this time it was nearing ten at night, but I ended up standing in the kitchen and eating a fair amount of these beans straight from the bowl! I wanted just a taste, but they were so good I couldn't stop! Also, jut to note, they did seem a bit spicy coming straight from the pot, but after they rested for a day I tasted zero heat. So, in conclusion, best. beans. ever. 



The Best Beans Ever

Ingredients
3 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed
1 diced onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 jalapeño (slit down the side)
1 ham hock
2 quarts good-quality chicken stock


Directions
Place all items in a slow cooker. Simmer on low for 10-12 hours. Transfer beans and desired amount of cooking liquid to a large bowl and mash. Serve with a squeeze of lime. Try not to eat entire bowl ;)

*This recipe makes a lot of beans! I figured I would freeze a portion of them, but we managed to gobble them up in just a few days so that wasn't needed! They were delicious on their own, but they'd also work in taco salads, seven-layer dips and bean burritos. 


4 comments:

  1. I also love crock-pot recipes and this one looks great!

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    1. Thanks! I used to have two crockpots and one broke... I think I need to get another so I can have this recipe going along with a taco filling at the same time! Yay for slow cooking :)

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  2. These look delicious! I am all about a good crock pot recipe! :)

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  3. Yum!!! These sound amazing!! My hubby loves beans but I've never tried making my own.

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