POSTED: 08:29 p.m. HST, Feb 20, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 09:07 p.m. HST, Jul 15, 2013
When it comes to Crock-Pot cooking, the holy grail is a dish that is at its prime after 10 hours of cooking, one that can be scooped directly onto dinner plates at the end of an eight-hour workday, plus commute.
It is this singular pursuit that leaves so many people dissatisfied with their slow-cookers. Truth is, most dishes are best with six to eight hours of cooking (less for chicken), with overcooking producing blah results. Plus, you'll be much happier with the finished product if you do a little bit of tweaking afterward (skim the fat, thicken the sauce, sometimes even broil the meat to give it some crusty chew).
And then we have dried beans. Get yourself a bag full of these and that holy grail is attainable. They take at least nine hours to cook, and they can go for 12. That allows for a workday, plus overtime, plus a long commute. The only post-cooking adjustment you'll need to make is to taste and maybe stir in something sweet or spicy.
These beans take their sweetness from lilikoi jelly, which can be subbed with guava or the fruit flavor of your choice. It also uses brewed coffee for balance and a prepared barbecue sauce for ease, both tips I stole from "Slow Cooker Revolution," by the editors of Cook's Illustrated. My preferred sauce is Noh Hawaiian Bar-B-Q Sauce, the spicy version, conveniently available in supermarkets.
This is a vegetarian dish, but you could easily make it a meal for meat eaters by stirring in sausage or diced ham and letting it heat through for about 10 minutes.
PS: If you don't want to wait 10 hours for the beans to cook, soak them in water overnight. They should get tender after about six hours of cooking.
LILIKOI BBQ BEANS FOR THE SLOW-COOKER
1 pound dry pinto beans
1 cup lilikoi (passion fruit) jelly
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped red bell pepper (in large chunks)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried)
4 cups water
Combine ingredients in slow-cooker. Cook on low 9 to 11 hours, until beans are tender.
Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in more jelly or barbecue sauce, or add mustard, chili pepper sauce or brown sugar as needed. Let sit about 10 minutes or hold on warm setting for up to an hour to allow to thicken slightly (add hot water if mixture becomes too thick). Serves 8.
Notes: Beans may also be cooked on high setting in 5 to 7 hours, or soak beans overnight in cold water to shorten cooking time.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 330 calories, 1 g total fat, no saturated fat or cholesterol, 150 mg sodium, 69 g carbohydrate, 12 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 14 g protein
Next week: Another Crock-Pot recipe, this time for oxtail stew.
Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S. Write "By Request," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.