Slow-cooker Baked Beans
I remember finding a recipe for Boston Baked Beans in the Rose Elliott Bean Book many years ago. I think it required cooking them in a Gas Mark 2 oven for something like eight hours or so. Unless you were going to do a huge batch, or find something else that needed long, low cooking, I couldn’t justify to myself having an oven on for that long.
Then I bought a slow cooker and my mind turned back to the idea of making my own baked beans.
The classic recipes for baked beans use haricots, and that’s the variety you’ll find in tins at the supermarket. However, I’ve had really variable results with cooking dried haricots. Some batches cook to tenderness after an overnight soak and an hour’s cooking. Other times you could cook the beans to doomsday and they’d still break your teeth if you tried to chew them. So for this recipe, I’ve gone for Pinto Beans, which I’ve had much better results with.
The other ingredient the classic recipes calls for is molasses. Black strap molasses. I love the name, but my local supermarket doesn’t stock it. It does stock black treacle, but I don’t bake and I really can’t foresee a time when I use a lot of treacle on a regular basis. In the interest of economy, and the chances that I’d use it again, I went for Dark Muscovado Sugar.
Most of the recipes on the web for a slow cooker version of baked beans include bacon or ham. Naturally that’s out for a veggie version, but I did like the idea of including a smokey note to the dish. I decided on a bit of smoked paprika and it added a lovely barbecue touch to the dish (and besides it makes the flat smell wonderful while it’s cooking).
Two tablespoons of sugar may make this a bit sweet for your taste, but don’t panic on first tasting – it cooks in a lot better after a while. However, if you still find it too sweet after cooking, I’d add a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to balance it out and brighten the flavour.
200g pinto beans (dry weight)
1 large tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp vegetable stock powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp marmite
salt and pepper
Soak the pinto beans overnight.
Boil them for 10 minutes before using.
Add all the ingredients to the slow-cooker. Stir and mix through thoroughly.
Set the slow-cooker to low.
Cook for at least 6 hours.
Serves 2 as supper.
Serves 4 as part of a cooked breakfast.