• pork and beans is a combo that’s hard to beat. Add sausage, tomatoes, and lots of garlic, and you’ve got an outstanding single-pot meal. We wanted to make this dish in a slow cooker, and here’s what we discovered: shopping list
  • Use boneless country-style pork ribs. Richly flavored and inexpensive, they are perfect for braising. shopping list
  • Use large great Northern beans; smaller beans cook too quickly. Start with dried beans and soak them overnight for the creamiest, most evenly cooked texture. And remember to sort them carefully for bits of dirt or tiny pebbles before soaking them. shopping list
  • Sauté the aromatic ingredients. Most slow cooker recipes skip this step, but we found it well worth the effort for a far richer flavor. shopping list
  • Add a lot of strongly flavored ingredients. beans require assertive seasoning and the long simmer in the slow cooker diminishes flavors. shopping list

How to make it

  • Great northern beans are white beans that grow to about the size of lima beans when cooked. They must be soaked for 8 to 12 hours to begin the softening process before using them in this recipe. There is no need to be judicious about trimming the fat from the ribs; a little bit left on will give the stew a nice flavor, and excess fat can be skimmed off the surface at the end of the cooking time.
  • 1 pound dried great northern beans (2 cups), picked over, rinsed, and soaked overnight
  • 3 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs , trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion , chopped medium
  • 6 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound kielbasa sausage , cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1. Drain the beans and add them to the slow cooker. Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of the ribs, about 10 minutes, then add to the slow cooker. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and repeat with 2 more teaspoons oil and the remaining ribs.
  • 2. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the empty skillet and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds. Stir in the wine and tomato paste, scraping up any browned bits. Simmer until the wine has reduced by half, about 3 minutes, then pour into the slow cooker.
  • 3. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the kielbasa, broth, thyme, fennel, and bay leaves to the slow cooker. Cover and cook, on either low or high, until the pork is tender and the beans are soft, 7 to 8 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high. Before serving, discard the bay leaves, stir in the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • To Make Ahead
  • The night before (or a day in advance), soak the beans and prepare the recipe through step 2. Instead of adding the ingredients to the slow cooker, refrigerate them, but be sure to store the browned meat in one container and the remaining ingredients in another container. In the morning, drain the beans and add them to the slow cooker, then add the remaining chilled ingredients and proceed with step 3. The cooking time will run to the high end of the range given in the recipe.

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