Thursday, May 26, 2011

Crockpot Pinto Beans and Rice

I've been on a bean kick lately. Chick peas, pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans...I'm buying them canned, dried, in prepared hummus, you name it. I think I love beans so much because they are something that everyone in my family will will eat, plus they are so cheap that they help keep my grocery bill down. I kind of blame Katie, since I sort of mentioned trying dried beans and then she bugged me, and bugged me, and then I felt all sorts of bean guilt like maybe I was missing out on something. Are they really fantastic? Is there some crazy dried bean secret that I don't know?

(Edit: The word bugging doesn't really fit. I meant Katie was so enthusiastic that I was trying them out that she'd ask, and I hadn't gotten to it, so eventually I began to feel guilty that the beans were in my cupboard and I was ignoring them! How could I ignore the awesomeness that is dried beans?!? But no, not bugging. Gentle prodding that made me giggle.)

Well, sort of. They are really tasty. Crazy cheap. And there's no salt added, which is a huge bonus. If you don't buy dried beans, why not? They aren't any more work, and you can just soak, boil them up, and throw them in the freezer. Easy! Not sure? Check out Katie's great post on How to Cook Dried Beans.

This recipe from Merry intrigued me because she's from Alabama, and a recipe from her childhood would be completely different from my own, having grown up in central BC. Beans and rice? What would they be like?

Delicious. Oh, SO delicious. Kevin doesn't even really love baked beans, but he snarfed these down right away, took some for lunch, and declared that they were very, very tasty.

Now, hint about the dried beans. I did this recipe differently than Merry, mostly because I was a little short on time. I put the dried beans in a container and covered them with water, then soaked them overnight. The next day I drained and rinsed them, put them in a pot, then covered them with water again and brought to a boil. Once at a boil, I turned them down and let them simmer for a good long time until they were soft.

I didn't time how long it took. Generally, it was more than an hour, and I just kept puttering in the kitchen and tasting the beans every now and then to see if they were soft. Make sure to taste more than 1 because often, 1 or 2 would be good and then I'd have a 3rd or 4th and they'd be a bit hard. Once they were cooked, I actually didn't have time to make the dish right away so I then put the beans in the freezer. When it was time to make this, I thawed the cooked beans and then tossed them into the crockpot with all the other ingredients, but I only put in 4 cups of water. Even at that, they were a bit soupy and I had to put the beans in a pan and under the broiler to get rid of some of that excess sauce, so when I make it again I'd go the same route and reduce the water to 3 cups. The original recipe had 8 cups of water, which included the cooking time (which would obviously reduce the amount of liquid), but when I made it I didn't read the recipe right through so I had to improvise a little. See Merry's instructions if you aren't sure what to do.

Adapted from Merry With Children

Pinto Beans With Chorizo and Rice

2 cups dried pinto beans
3 cups water
4 slices of bacon
1 onion, diced
1/2 lb kielbasa cut into bite sized pieces (for a spicy version, use Chorizo sausage, chopped)
1 can ranch style or bbq beans
1 (6oz) can of tomato paste
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt (you can always add more)
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp ground paprika

Put the beans in a container and cover with about 3 inches or so of water, giving the beans lots of room to swell. Set aside overnight. The next day, drain off the water and rinse the beans. Get a large pot on the stove and bring the water to a boil, then add the beans. Simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the beans are tender. Take off the heat and drain.

In a skillet over medium heat, fry up the bacon. When it's cooked through remove to paper towel to drain, and drain off all but about 1 Tbsp of the bacon fat. Add in the onions and continue to saute them, stirring, until they are translucent and soft.

Put all the ingredients in your crockpot-everything from the beans to bacon, sauteed onions, spices, you name it. Give it all a stir so that it's mixed, then simmer it all on low in your crockpot for 8-10 hours, adding more water if it seems to be a bit dry. I don't like my beans too soupy, so I preferred less water. You may add more if you think you need it.

We served this with a bottle of hot sauce and some steamed rice at the table, and everyone just ate it right up!

Serves 6
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