Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Busy-ness Begins (slow-cooker BBQ beans & sausage)

Well, it finally happened. After the lazy months of summer, having every night and weekend free (and every Friday afternoon), the chaos hit. The quiet campus became a beehive of activity, with the bees (I mean students) bringing on busy-ness for me. In addition to working more nights and weekends, this means several things on the Goode kitchen front:

  1. Limited time for experimental baking (sorry, Rose! The Bread Bible won't be getting its weekly use for a few months)
  2. Late dinners (which equals me being grouchy and wanting dinner the minute I walk in the door)
  3. Dear hubby still expecting dinner every night (not that he won't cook, I just prefer to eat my cooking :-))

Thus, my recipe hunting has taken a new turn to slow cooker recipes. Not only is the slow cooker super easy to use, it's also a chance for me to put the only stainless steel appliance I own on the counter for display.

I have to say that I'm still a bit leery of using the slow cooker- I guess it's because I never cooked with one until about a year ago, so I'm not quite sure how the meal will turn out. My limited experience has resulted in weirdly-textured meat, and an unfortunate, gritty fiasco with black bean soup (lesson learned: if you cook dry beans, don't add the salt until AFTER the beans are cooked). However, I'm am ready to overcome my past mistakes and search for new and delicious recipes for the Rival.

One very good recipe I found was slow cooker BBQ beans and sausage from Food Network Magazine. I put this together one day before we had a soccer doubleheader and didn't get home until almost 7. It only took 10 minutes to put together during my lunch break. This dish was ready 15 minutes after we walked in the door.

Slow Cooker BBQ Beans & Sausage (I made some tweaks, but you can find the original recipe here.)

3 cups of chicken broth/stock
3 cups of water
1/3 cup of tomato paste
1/3 cup of brown sugar
3 TBSP of molasses
3 TBSP of honey mustard
2 TBSP of barbecue seasoning blend
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb. dry navy beans, rinsed and picked over
1 small onion (or half of a large onion), cut in half
1 package of chicken-apple sausages, sliced thickly
2 TBSP of apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP of Worcestershire sauce

In a slow cooker, whisk together the broth, water, tomato paste, brown sugar, molasses, honey mustard, bbq seasoning, and garlic. Then add the beans, onion, and the sliced sausage. Give it a stir. Put the cover on the slow cooker and cook the beans on HIGH for at least 6 hours (or until the beans are tender). My beans cooked for 6.5 hours and turned out just fine.

Once the beans are tender, take the lid off the pot and remove and discard the onion. Add the apple cider vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Let the beans cook for at least another 15 minutes, uncovered, before dishing them out & enjoying.

If you want smokier beans, you could certainly substitute another kind of sausage, or add some bacon. To cut the sweetness, you could use regular mustard instead of the honey mustard.

The beans are complemented by a slice of bread or a roll. You need something to mop up the extra sauce that forms. Dear hubby added some rice to his bowl and thought the mixture was excellent.

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