I am not a great cook. I try hard. As I've gotten older, I've learned to really love the whole process: shopping for ingredients, reading recipes, preparing the food.
I tried to make BBQ beans in the slow cooker last weekend. I read a few recipes just to get an idea of what to do, then made them my own.
I decided to make two pounds of beans. I bought Great Northern Beans. I should have made just one pound but that package of dried beans looked so small. So I doubled my recipe.
As instructed, I soaked the beans overnight, at least 12 hours from the time I put them in water to the time I started cooking. My recipe included brown sugar, molasses, Worcestershire sauce, a chopped onion, salt and pepper. Also some ketchup and yellow mustard.
The recipes were all a little different on cooking times, so I approximated. I cooked them for six hours on high (the recipes said "four on high" or "eight on low). Then I let them sit on "warm" for hours more.
At dinner time, yuck, beans were hard as pebbles. I put the high heat back on for a few hours ... no improvement. I transferred the beans to a big pot, brought the mix to a boil and simmered for hours more. The beans did get softer, but some were still sort of hard.
Stuck the pot in the refrigerator (because it was bed time) and the next evening added water and boiled/simmered for hours more. The beans were improved, but some were still sort of hard, though to look at them, a few were split apart. Tried the same thing the next not to no avail.
This morning I tossed the whole batch in the trash.
For the record, the beans tasted good. They just never got soft enough to enjoy.
I have two theories as to what might have happened but would truly love the opinion of the real cooks on this board.
(1) The recipe said "salt and pepper to taste." I added salt and pepper and it wasn't until I was having the consistency problems that I recalled once reading that salted beans never get done. So, it could have been the salt. I did do some online research and there really is no conclusive view on salting beans before cooking. Most sites said there was no real evidence that salted beans won't get done, just that they might take longer. (It also occurs to me that you could add bacon to the mix and bacon is salted -- so how could it be the salt? I'm not sure.)
(2) This is where I think I went wrong: The night before, I put the beans in the crock pot and covered them with water. When I woke up the next day, a quarter to a third of the beans were no longer covered in water, as the beans had absorbed some of the water and gotten bigger. The combination of larger beans and less water left some of the beans no longer soaking. I figured it was no big deal, but now I think I didn't add enough water to soak the beans and the whole thing was doomed from that point forward.
That said, I really don't know what happened. I'm determined to try again and would love some opinions. I really like to eat beans and want to make red beans for red beans and rice and black beans and so on, in addition to BBQ beans.
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