Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble, charcoal burn and slow cooker bubble. Yes, we have been at it again. On our recent weekend in Hay on Wye, we took along the slow cooker, sat outside on a balcony in the last of the autumn sunshine, and whipped up a batch of beefy, beany deliciousness.
This one pot meal has had a number of guises in our kitchen. The staples that always remain the same are: bacon, some kind of beef, pinto beans, tinned tomatoes and a chilli of some sort. The specifics have varied from ribs to brisket, chipotle to paprika, and with magic ingredients ranging from bovril to black strap molasses.
As with all the best recipes, we started off by frying the bacon. With the slow cooker, we tend to throw it all in. In the more civilised setting of your kitchen, it would be customary to brown the meat and pay a little more care and attention to the order the ingredients are cooked. But we were outdoors with a sunset to watch and beers to drink.
On this occasion, the liveners were a generous sprinkle of paprika, a couple of bay leaves, a couple of pinches of harissa (the most exotic thing we could get our hands on in deepest, darkest Herefordshire), and some rather interesting pickled chipotles. Pictured below, these chillies in pickled form were new to us. They were spicy without blowing your head off and had a pleasingly vinegary Louisiana tang.
Now for the meat. The options at the butcher were a bit limited by the time we got there, so we opted for brisket. This needed quite a lot of fat removing and took a long long time to cook. We also used short ribs in previous incarnations which are probably better.
The meat was added to the pan with whole tinned cherry tomatoes. Another slight compromise. Who likes the scalding hot juice from a cherry tomato squirting out in their mouth at an inopportune moment? Nobody. That's why the photo below is of us carefully squashing all the tomatoes to ensure against blister-free mouths. Save yourself time and buy chopped.
Et voila. The beans in their full glory, ready to be cooked. One thing we do recommend if you are using tinned beans, is adding two thirds of your beans at the start and the rest three quarters of the way through cooking. We think this gives more texture.
All in all this is super simple, tastes amazing, and - with the assistance of the slow cooker - requires almost no effort. We will be cooking it for the fourth time this weekend. If you are busy outside raking leaves, chopping wood, picking apples, or wrangling cattle, get this on the bubble and you won't be disappointed.