It’s May. Memorial Day is coming up and everyone knows what that means: Summer Kickoff!!
I’ve found that as I’ve grown older, summer doesn’t have that same feeling to it like it did when I was in school. Don’t get me wrong, I still love summer with the pool parties and BBQs and warm weather. But there was something about getting out of school for 3 months that made it extra special. I still have to get up and go to work every day, and stare out the windows at the beautiful weather and the beach. So, yeah, not quite the same.
When we first bought our house back in 2008, the backyard was, to put it nicely, horrendous. I couldn’t even go back there, it was so bad. I really wanted to be able to entertain and have a place for my eventual kids to play. It wasn’t long before we started to rip out everything. And by “we” I mean my husband. I helped a little with the bricks, but it was a lot of sweat equity on his part. We finally got everything all cleared out and called in a company to level it all out and put in pavers and grass. We added a BBQ and, most recently, a smoker. Some patio furniture rounded it all out and we now have ourselves a really nice space for entertaining.
There are some more things we want to do with the space (like update the furniture, get something to replace our gazebo because the top keeps getting ripped to shreds whenever it gets really windy, and find space for a garden), but we are pretty happy with what we’ve created and like to entertain during the summer and other warm months (which we get often here).
My husband tends to man the grill and smoker while I’m in charge of sides. This recipe I’m about to share was born out of necessity. OK, that may be dramatic, but I stand by it. I needed a good baked beans recipe. I love baked beans but I just couldn’t get a recipe just right. I like the Bush’s beans in a can, but I would prefer to make them from scratch.
After playing around with ingredients for a while, I think I’ve finally got a winner on my hands. My husband even said they were the best baked beans he’s ever had! They are sweet and soft and perfectly compliment any BBQ. And you know what’s even better? You make them in the slow cooker!! And do most of the prep work the day before!! So while the hubby is out over the hot grill, my beans can be cooking away without me even being there!
Slow-Cooker Baked Beans
1 pound dry white beans (or navy beans)
6-8 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, diced finely
3 cups of water (plus more for soaking the beans)
½ cup of ketchup
¼ cup molasses
½ – ¾ cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like it. I erred on the side of more.)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons whisky or bourbon *optional
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon salt
½ tablespoon black pepper
Pinch of cloves
1/8 -1/4 cup cornstarch
Day before prep work:
Add the beans to a big bowl and cover completely in water. Let them soak overnight. *Don’t skip this step or your beans will not be soft enough*
In a skillet, crisp up your bacon pieces, set aside. Saute your onions, set aside.
Mix together your sauce: Ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, vinegar, whisky (if adding), mustard, salt, pepper, cloves. Set aside.
The next morning, drain the beans and add them to the slow cooker. Discard the “bean water.” Add the bacon, onion, and sauce. Top with 3 cups of water.
Set it on low for about 10-12 hours.
When they are just about done (about 30 minutes or so left), skim out a little bit of the liquid and whisk in some cornstarch to make a slurry. I say between 1/8 and ¼ cup because it all depends on how thick you want the sauce to be and how much water had already evaporated during the cooking process. Just use your best judgement for how you want it to be.
Add the slurry back into the slow cooker and stir it around. Put the lid back on and let it finish cooking and thickening up.
These are my new go-to bean recipe for any BBQ. I am so happy with the way they turned out!