Things You'll Need
Large pot with lid
Bacon, salt pork or fatback
Low-fat, cholesterol-free and high in fiber and potassium, black beans shine as a side dish, as the main ingredient for a soup or mashed and seasoned as a dip. They can be rolled into a tortilla for burritos or enchiladas, mixed with corn and tomato for an easy salsa or mixed with couscous for a healthy salad. Overnight soaking isn't a necessity, but the beans do take about half an hour of preparation before you put them in the Crock-Pot.
Rinse the black beans, sift through them for small stones or other debris and put them in a large pot with about three times as much cold water as beans. Bring to a boil. Once the beans begin to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Take the beans off the heat, cover, and let them sit in the warm cooking water for about 10 minutes.
Peel and coarsely chop one yellow onion and cut a couple of slices of bacon into about 1-inch pieces. If you prefer fatback or salt pork, cut off the tough rind if it's present and cube the meat. Salt pork is fatback that has been preserved with salt. Brown the bacon, fatback or salt pork in a small skillet. The meat adds flavor, but leaving it out for vegetarians won't harm the dish.
Pour the beans and their cooking liquid into the Crock-Pot. Add the onion, the browned meat and any rendered fat. Season the beans with salt and black pepper. Season the beans to taste, if you prefer, with garlic, chopped chili or sage.
Set the Crock-Pot on low and let the beans cook for 4 to 6 hours, until they're cooked to your taste.
Add about 1 tablespoon of epazote to the beans while they’re cooking. Epazote, an herb similar to cilantro that’s used in Mexican cooking, adds flavor and reduces the gassiness of beans. Check the ethnic foods aisle at the supermarket. Use the cooked beans within three days or divide the black beans and their cooking liquid into single-serve portions and freeze for up to six months. Top with sofrito, a traditional topping for black bean soup made from chopped onion, peppers, garlic and cilantro.
If you’re using salt pork, don’t add salt to the beans after they’re cooked.
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Nutritional Value of Dry Beans
- The Southern Girl’s Kitchen: In a Southern Kitchen -- Ingredients
- Exploratorium: Getting a BANG out of Beans
- Los Angeles Times: L.A. at Home -- Epazote, a Wild Herb Worth Taming in the Garden
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln: UNL Food -- Cooking with Dry Beans
- U Mass Extension: Sofrito