Jessah over at Dreaming of Dimples totally made my day the other day by dropping by to tell me about a crock pot recipe exchange that she is hosting with a couple of other girls. I immediately knew I had to join in the fun... then I realized that I have very few crock pot recipes that I love, and none that had not been blogged a million times by other people. Then I realized that I could tell you about what I use my crock pot for ALL THE TIME, even though it isn't a recipe per se...
You see, I find that my crock pot is the best for cooking dried beans. I'm sure that a lot of you choose to buy canned beans when a recipe calls for beans. However with BPA and lead concerns, it can be hard to find beans in BPA-free cans. Also, the gas and discomfort many experience with canned beans is greatly decreased in home-cooked beans, because the fiber is able to break down further during the slow cooking process. And I don't want to even mention how cheap this is... because you all would be shocked by how much money you could be saving buying your beans dried in bulk, then cooking them at home. Convenience has a hefty price tag.
So here's a quick lesson on making your beans in the crock pot:
1) Procure dried beans. Ours come from our local farm share, but you can find them at the supermarket.
2) Figure out how much cooked beans you will need, and divide that amount by 3. This is how much of the dried beans you will need. I want to make 6 cups of cooked beans, so I'm starting with 2 cups dried.
3) Rinse your beans. A lot. A mesh strainer works best for this task, I usually rinse my dried beans for 30-45 seconds under cold water.
4) Plop them in your crock pot, and fill that bad boy up with water. I leave a one inch gap between the water line and the top of the pot.
5) Decide if you want to add seasoning. Note that the seasoning you add is going to do more for the cooking water than for the beans themselves, so you only need to do this if you will be adding the cooking water to a recipe along with the beans. I'm planning on using part of my beans for a soup, and I'll reserve quite a bit of the bean water as a stock. As a result, I added the stems from one bunch of parsley (bundled together, so they aren't a mess later), 3 whole garlic cloves, and a teaspoon of salt.
6) Set your crock pot to low, put the lid on, and walk away. 6-8 hours later, you will have perfectly cooked beans without soaking or stirring!
I hope you guys give it a try... they really are better than the beans you get out of a can. Are you linking up your favorite crock pot recipe too? I can't wait to read it and add it to my "must try" list! Hope you all are having a fantastic Sunday =).