I got this recipe from one of my favorite slow-cooker cookbooks, Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker: Recipes for Entertaining by Beth Hensperger & Julie Kaufmann. I’ve slightly adapted it with a few additions. I usually serve them over rice as a side dish with chopped cilantro mixed in.
1 lb black beans; rinsed, picked through, and soaked
1 onion, small diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 t cumin
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 t dried oregano
2 bay leaves
¼ C extra-virgin olive oil
12 C water
1-1/4 lb ham hock
Add onion, garlic, seasonings, oil, and beans to the crock pot and stir together. Nestle the ham hocks into the beans and cover with water by 2 inches. Cook on HIGH for 4-6 hours. The beans should be tender with lots of liquor (term for flavored cooking water). Season to taste with S&P. Remove the bay leaf and ham hock.
A few tips for cooking dried beans:
-Soak your beans overnight. Just put them in a bowl and cover them with water, about 12 cups of water per pound of beans. It helps decrease the gassiness of beans and also decreases cooking time. I have forgotten many times to soak my beans, but there’s an easy solution. Put the beans in a pot with plenty of water and bring to boil. Boil for a couple minutes and then remove from heat. Cover and set aside for 1 hour.
-Don’t salt your beans during the cooking process. Rumor has it that this will prevent your beans from softening. There are arguments in the culinary world about this, but I’d rather not take my chances, so I just don’t add salt until the very end.
-Freeze your beans in their liquor. I make larges batches of beans and then just freeze the leftovers in small containers to take out as I need.