October 1, 2011

Hearty Baked Beans and Ham

Lately I have been picking up the nicest hams. Well trimmed, with just enough fat for cooking, and a nice bone included. A good ham bone means one thing - baked beans.

Normally Baked Beans are baked (no kidding!) but time saving mommas like me have been making them up in slow cookers since the slow cooker was invented (thank you Naxxon Utilities Corp).  With the popular new page on facebook, The Crockpot Girls giving me some inspiration I decided to make up a batch. This is a great dish for supper or evening eats for cool autumn nights around a bonfire.

Near as I can tell, my crockpot is about a 5 quart pot. The measurements are for that size so if your pot is smaller, halve the amounts. The cooking time essentially stays the same.

Hearty Baked Beans

The beans begin with your ham. I cook my ham with a 500ml bottle of sprite poured over it. Some people use water, and others use pineapple. I've used all three from time to time and all three (alone or together in any combination) work to give a nice ham juice in the bottom of the pan after cooking. Keep the ham juice for your beans.  Also keep your ham bone and rind with fat.

You will need:

900-1000 grams of white beans (one large bag)
ham juice
leftover ham scraps and pieces
onion - one large or up to three if they are very small
garlic (in some form, I use powder but minced fresh garlic would be great too)
1 cup ketchup (half the ketchup can be substituted with barbeque sauce, steak sauce or plum sauce, each giving their own slight taste difference)
2/3 cup - 1 cup of Brown sugar (more for sweeter beans, less for tangier beans)
1/4 cup molasses (optional; it gives a different taste slightly. I've made the beans with and without this ingredient).
ham bone and rind with fat.

Wash your beans well and add to the crockpot.
Add all the listed ingredients except the water, ham bone and rind.
The more ham you can add, the better.
If you have leftover bacon sitting in the freezer or from breakfast, it can also be added.
Top with water so the pot is about 3/4 of the way full and mix well. Add more water to 'fill' the pot but be sure to leave room for the bone and for bean expansion a bit. Half an inch from the top is about right. Mix again.
Add the bone to the middle of the mix. Trim the fat from the rind and lay the rind on top and sink it slightly.

Cook on high for about 3 hours and then on low for another 3-5 hours. I let mine cook all day. Stir occasionally but gently. Don't mix the bone to the bottom or break the rind up.
Once the beans are cooked you can remove the rind and the bone. At this point it's ready to eat although the beans may not be very dark and they are more like a bean soup.

I prefer to shut mine off before bed and let them sit overnight. The next day they simmer on low most of the day. Stir every couple of hours. The beans really darken up more like an oven baked bean and the taste is just so much better.

Visually, the second day beans look much better. The beans absorb more liquid overnight and taste so much better. (Incidentally, I've tried getting the same result by adding less water from the get-go but it's just not the same).

This dish freezes and reheats well.
Great as a meal or as a side dish (sorry Libby's)

Now I'm off to enjoy a bowl of beans for lunch. Yum!

I'd love to hear your variations of baked beans.
Leave your ideas or links in the comments please.


  1. I ran across your blog last week while looking for a baked bean recipe. This was fabulous! I had to make a couple of adjustments though. My crockpot was full of shredded pork for sandwiches so I had to use the stovetop for my beans and they turned out great. I cooked them on the stovetop for 20 hours or so. I was worried because after 12 hours they still tasted like beans but the longer they cooked and the liquid was absorbed, the better they tasted. Definitely a keeper recipe for me. Thanks so much for posting.

    1. You're welcome! I'm happy you enjoyed them. And I agree, they are much better after they have cooked a long while or even sat overnight. They are almost a two-day bean dish.
      I've never made them on the stovetop myself but it's good to know it works just as well.
      Thanks for stopping back and commenting!


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