Hello everyone, I’m back with another comforting recipe that’s a real hit at my family table! As a mom of two energetic boys and wife to a wonderful husband, I’m always on the hunt for hearty meals that I can prep in advance.
Meals that can simmer away on their own, filling the house with delicious aromas. While I juggle between school runs, homework, and my baking projects.
That’s why I adore my slow cooker. It’s a game-changer for busy families like ours! And today, I want to share with you a simple, yet incredibly satisfying recipe: Slow Cooker Beans and Ham.
Imagine a meal where hearty, wholesome beans merge their earthy flavor with the savory, home style charm of ham. This slow-cooked delight unfolds its magic in a bed of delectable, home-made chicken broth.
It’s a meal that guarantees empty plates and second helpings from my boys and husband every time!
Understanding Your Ham
Ham brings its own character to the table, a delightful mix of savory and subtly sweet accents. This creates a harmony with the rustic taste of the beans, establishing a delicious equilibrium.
Numerous ham variants are out there in the world, but for this culinary journey, we seek a sturdy variety. One resilient enough to withstand the slow cooking process.
It’s substantial enough to provide a meaty bite in every spoonful while distributing its flavors evenly throughout the broth.
Don’t feel restricted to a specific type of ham. You could go for a smoked ham for a deeper, smokier flavor. Or perhaps a honey-glazed ham if you prefer a touch of sweetness in your dish.
In this gastronomic pursuit, the ham you pick can make all the difference. It takes the spotlight in this mouth-watering, slow-cooked banquet.
Don’t forget, the secret to a remarkable recipe is tweaking it to satisfy your family’s unique palate. This recipe encourages that level of customization!
Unveiling the Beans
When it comes to the beans in this recipe, I’ve found that a mix of Pinto and Northern Beans works wonders. These beans are not just filler ingredients! They’re nutritious powerhouses that contribute significantly to the overall health quotient of this meal.
Pinto beans are a cherished constituent of Mexican culinary tradition, hailed for their creamy consistency and flavor-absorption prowess. Laden with protein and fiber, they form a satisfying and hearty meal centerpiece.
Northern Beans are larger than Pinto and have a delicate, mild flavor. They hold their shape well during the slow cooking process, adding a delightful texture to our dish.
The combination of these two varieties creates a perfect balance of taste and texture in our slow cooker beans and ham. They also add a good dose of fiber and protein, making this dish a healthy option for our family meals.
Should the Beans be soaked?
The issue of pre-soaking beans often comes up in kitchen talks. Both methods, to soak or not, have their own benefits.
Soaking beans ahead of time could speed up the cooking process and can also aid in digestion for some. But, in our slow cooker extravaganza, pre-soaking is optional. The reason?
Our beans are simmering for an extended duration in the slow cooker, allowing them plenty of time to soften and fully imbibe the ham and chicken broth flavors.
Also, eliminating the soaking step is not just a time-saver, it helps preserve the beans’ flavor and nutritional richness, which could be partially diminished if they were pre-soaked.
So, in this recipe, we keep it simple: sort, rinse, and straight into the slow cooker they go!
The Recipe Unfolded: A Step-by-Step Guide
Creating this hearty slow cooker beans and ham dish is a breeze. Even with the busy schedules we all seem to endure every day, we can still concoct a comforting, home-cooked meal for our loved ones. Let’s walk through each step together.
Sorting and Rinsing the Beans
The first step is to sort through your beans. This may seem tedious, but it’s an essential step to ensure there are no little stones hiding among them or any beans that look past their prime.
After sorting, give the beans a good rinse. This not only cleans the beans, but also removes any loose skins or dust.
Layering the Ingredients
Now, let’s begin building our flavors. Place your clean, sorted beans in the slow cooker. Then, nestle your chunked ham on top.
The ham on top helps its flavors drip down into the beans as it cooks, permeating the entire dish with its savory goodness.
Adding the Broth
Next comes the chicken broth. Crafting your own broth can dramatically enhance the final taste of your dish while being kinder on your wallet than store-bought variants.
If opting for store-bought broth suits your lifestyle better, selecting a low-sodium variety will give you control over your dish’s saltiness.
Setting the Cook Time
Now, set your slow cooker to low and let it do its magic for about 12 hours. If you’re short on time, setting it on high for about 8 hours works just as well. The goal is to cook it until the beans are tender and the flavors well integrated.
Shredding the Ham
Once cooked, shred the ham into smaller pieces. This ensures that there’s a bit of ham in every bite, distributing its flavor evenly throughout the dish.
Finally, serve your delicious slow cooker beans and ham with a side of cornbread. The sweetness of the cornbread complements the savory beans and ham, rounding out the meal perfectly.
Achieving the Ideal Consistency
So you’ve nailed the beans and ham combo, the taste is just spot on. The puzzle you might find yourself faced with now is how to get the dish’s texture right. We’re shooting for a full-bodied, stick-to-your-ribs kind of dish, not a watery bowl of beans.
Here’s the ace up your sleeve, slow cooking! It’s a magic trick for flavor and texture. As your beans cook, they start to break apart and mix their starch into the liquid.
That’s where the transformation happens. Your thin broth becomes a rich, belly-warming sauce that clings to each mouthful.
But what if the dish isn’t as thick as you’d like? Not to worry, there are a couple of quick fixes you can try. Option one is to scoop out some beans, mash them up, then mix them back in.
Or, option two, let the dish cool down a bit, then warm it up again. These little tweaks can nudge your dish towards the thickness you want.
Just keep in mind, this stuff gets thicker as it cools. So if it seems a little runny while it’s still hot, that’s okay. Better a bit loose on the stove than too thick on your plate.
Tips for Storage and Freezing
Once you’ve savored this comforting slow cooker beans and ham dish, it’s likely you’ll have some leftovers, as this recipe is generous!
But worry not, this meal is just as delicious when reheated, making it perfect for those busy days when cooking from scratch isn’t an option.
Storing in the Refrigerator
To store the leftovers, let the beans and ham cool completely before transferring them into an airtight container. They can then be refrigerated and enjoyed within the next 3–4 days.
Freezing for Longer Storage
Long-term storage of your meal? The freezer is your best friend. Make sure your remaining food has cooled, then find a sturdy, freezer-friendly container or a robust freezer bag. Don’t fill it to the brim though, give it some room to breathe.
The frozen beans and ham can last for up to 3 months while maintaining their quality.
For round two with your ham and beans, if they’re from the fridge, just warm them up on the stove. Keep the flame medium, stir every so often, and wait until they’re good and hot.
Got them from the freezer? Your best bet is to let them slowly defrost in the fridge the night before you plan to heat them up again.
Slow Cooker Beans and Ham
- Slow Cooker
- 2-3 Lbs Ham Chunks
- 2 Lbs Pinto and Northern Beans
- 12 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1/2 Tsp Ground black pepper
- Sort through the beans to make sure there are not any rocks or odd looking beans.
- Rinse and place beans in the slow cooker.
- Place the ham on top of the beans and then pour in the chicken broth.
- Cook on low for 12 hours (high for 8 hours), and/or until the beans are tender.
- Shred the ham to distribute it among the beans.
- Serve with cornbread.
More Slow Cooker Meals
If your slow cooker is your primary means of dinner production, I have some more great recipes here for you: