Best-Ever Baked Beans

This is the first time I’ve made my Aunt Jo-Anne’s famous (at least in our family) baked beans in a slow-cooker.

Highly. Recommended. Whoa, these are good. And easy. And good.

So good, in fact, that I’ve given them a featured role in our New Year’s Eve dinner (along with pulled pork and a few other sides…and champagne, of course).

The plan this year: Kendrick’s likely getting home too late for us to go downtown, as we’d originally intended, and so we’ve decided to skip the taxis, expense, and general headacheness of Going Out Big in favor of home cooking followed by drinks in the neighborhood. Seriously, this slow-cooker is the BEST: I get to do all the dinner legwork way in advance, and then head out for Happy Hour with some friends while it finishes up on its own.

But back to the baked beans. This time, I added a few little extras to Joanne’s original recipe…and they came out sweet, tangy, and filled with incredibly tender bits of meat.

What you need:

1 package dry beans (I used black-eyed beans)

1 onion (finely chopped)

1 ham hock

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

1/4 cup real maple syrup

1/2 cup ketchup

1-2 cups water

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

What you do:

1. Pour the beans into a big bowl and just cover with water. Let them soak overnight.

2. Boil the beans for 10-15 minutes on the stovetop; drain.

3. Place the beans and all other ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for hours and hours (mine were in there for 7-8 hours, but I also only boiled the beans for 10 minutes, so perhaps that’s why they took longer). Add a bit more water halfway through if they look a little dry.

4. Remove ham hock and shred meat; return meat to pot. Adjust seasoning, if needed, and serve (here, they’re served alongside German Potato Salad and coleslaw).