Today is the day that I will get a tea break to myself, all to myself, while the 2 year old naps and the other kids are in school, himself will be at work. I will get a tea break. I will drink a hot cup of tea from start to finish and the house will be quiet. Apart from the quiet bubble of the slow cooker that is. Please do read the advisory note on cooking with dried beans in a slow cooker at the end of this post.
I’ve always wanted a slow cooker but couldn’t quite bring myself to justify the expense. A good friend was getting rid of one that she had barely used so I offered to take it off her hands before Christmas.
Normally when I cook with dried beans I have to pre-soak them and often cook them before adding the beans to a sauce. This version requires no soaking, stirring about 3 times in the cooking process and you will have the most tender ready after some time. If you can stand the aromas wafting through the house overnight you could pop the cooker on before going to bed and wake up to a perfect breakfast or brunch packed full of protein.
Slow Cooker Beans (makes 8 portions)
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 400ml vegetable stock
- 2 medium white onions finely sliced
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 sticks of celery, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 200g dried cannellini beans
- 200g dried butter beans
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Splash of Worcester sauce
- Splash of balsamic vinegar
- Drizzle of black treacle
Make sure your slow cooker is off before starting.
Place all your ingredients into the crock-pot (the ceramic bowl of the slow cooker). Stir the mixture well. Place the lid firmly on top.
Turn the slow cooker on high for 5 hours, after which time you turn it to medium for a further 2 hours.
Stir the mixture 3 times during the cooking process if you can. If you can’t it’s no big deal from a flavour point of view, but it can help stop crusty bits forming on the crock-pot which can be a pain to scrub off.
The flavour of these beans are only improved by leaving the mixture to cool and mature for a further 12 hours. We normally eat a batch as soon as they are ready, then jar the remainder and allow to cool before popping it in the fridge. It keeps for up to a fortnight in the fridge in a sealed, sterilised jar. Our baked beans never last that long though.On cooking dried beans from scratch in a slow cooker. Please, please be careful that your slow cooker simmers/boils when it is on high. Dried beans can contain a toxin that could make you very ill unless your beans are cooked at a very high temperature. For dried kidney beans, broadbeans (fava beans) and soya beans in particular, you should always pre-soak and cook them before adding them to a slow cooker. This is because the levels of toxicity are particularly high in these beans. If your slow cooker doesn’t simmer at a high heat then don’t use dried beans in your cooker unless you’ve cooked them off first. If in doubt, pre-soak your beans and boil then for at least 30 minutes on high before draining and adding them to the slow cooker. This will kill off the toxins but not cook the beans. They can continue to cook in the slow cooker for the rest of the cooking time.
Note: For the vegetable stock I cheated and used a stock cube from Kallo Organic which is gluten and lactose free. I have no affiliation with the company apart from loving their products. This is also why I’ve not added salt to the recipe at all, you can season afterwards if you like.
You may notice that the beans look very dark in colour. This is because they have cooked in the tomato sauce and taken on the colour of the tomatoes.