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Crock-pot® baked beans are simply a way in which beans can be prepared through the use of a slow cooker, rather than a stock pot or other pan. This preparation usually creates a side dish that may be served with a wide range of different meals, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dried beans and canned beans can both be used in the recipes for this dish, though many people prefer to use the dried variety for more control over them. Crock-pot® baked beans are often made over the course of a day, by allowing them to cook slowly for several hours.
There are a few different ways in which Crock-pot® baked beans can be made, though they typically begin with either dried or canned beans. Dried beans usually need to be soaked, which is often done overnight, and then they are typically cooked in a pot for a few hours. This allows them to become tender, which they usually need to be before they are placed in the slow cooker. Canned beans do not need to be soaked, and someone can choose between either baked beans that have already been flavored or plain, cooked preparations for use in Crock-pot® baked beans.
Regardless of which types of beans are used, they are placed into a slow cooker with a number of additional ingredients to make Crock-pot® baked beans. The different types of ingredients that are usually added to this recipe often depend a great deal upon the tastes of those who are going to eat the dish. Common additives include barbecue sauce, brown sugar, and yellow mustard, though dry ingredients such as garlic powder, mustard seed, and cumin can be added. Additional liquid may need to be added to the Crock-pot® baked beans to ensure that they do not dry out while cooking.
Once everything is combined in the slow cooker, then the Crock-pot® baked beans are allowed to cook for several hours. The exact time required to make the dish depends a great deal upon the temperature setting a person uses for his or her slow cooker. Someone using the low setting, for example, may need to cook the beans for as long as 10 to 12 hours in order to ensure the beans are thoroughly cooked through and the flavors have all combined properly. Crock-pot® baked beans may be prepared in about half that time, however, if cooked on a high setting and when using canned beans.
If you're doing dried beans, then to me, the low setting is the best option, and you may need as long as 14 hours for the beans to soften completely. So it's definitely an all-day event.
When you think about how you like your baked beans, that determines what you use. I prefer hot sauce to red pepper, because I think it adds flavor as well as heat.
Like Scrbblchick, I generally use pork and beans. The beans are already cooked and it's a good start. I have also used molasses instead of brown sugar, and that makes for a good, caramelized flavor. I like beans that are more smoky and tangy, so I use more BBQ sauce and mustard.
If you want cowboy beans, brown a pound of ground beef and saute half a diced bell pepper and a small diced onion, mix and add the mixture to the beans about an hour before they're done.
If you know three days ahead of time that you want to make baked beans in the crock pot, that gives you enough time to go the dry bean route, since you will need to soak them overnight and cook them on top of the stove for a while.
I generally start with a big can of pork and beans and go from there. Dried onion and garlic powder are essential seasonings for me, along with black pepper and some cayenne. Then, I add barbecue sauce, brown sugar, mustard and ketchup until I'm happy with the taste.
About an hour or two before the beans are done, I put two strips of partially cooked bacon into the pot. By the time the beans are cooked, the bacon will be, too. I usually cook them on high for about four hours or so.
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