This year, for various reasons we are tightening our belts. I’ve been looking to cut costs in the kitchen, and one way to do this is to batch cook dishes and freeze in portions. Another way to do this is to eat more beans and lentils. This week, I’ve done both and made a huge batch of slow cooker pork and baked beans.
This dish does take a bit of planning ahead, but at £1.12 (current price at Morrison’s) for 500g of haricot beans, it’s a pretty frugal way to feed the family. Sure, you can buy baked beans, but this recipe is worth trying at least once. It’s like the baked beans we get in a tin, but a little different. Lighter and less stodgy perhaps, they are certainly tasty.
I’ve used diced pork pieces in this recipe, but I think it’d be just as lovely if you swapped the pork for sausages or chipolatas. I like it served on thick buttered toast, but it would be great with a pile of buttery mash or on a jacket potato.
This recipe makes so much food, it’s great for batch cooking and freezing and really economical too. There’s probably enough for two good-sized meals for a hungry family of four.
Slow Cooker Pork and Baked Beans
500g dried haricot beans, soaked for 24 hours
1 tablespoon oil, I used vegetable, but use what you have
450g diced pork (or swap for sausages)
4 rashers of smoked bacon, finely chopped
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons of dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
1 pint of stock, made with a stock cube
How to make your pork and baked beans:
The day before you want to cook your pork and baked beans, soak your dried haricot beans in plenty of water, following the instructions on the back of the packet. Once they’ve soaked for 24 hours, change the water and boil them for half an hour, or until they’re not chalky inside. Drain and set aside.
In a frying pan, add your oil and cook the diced pork until it is browned. Once brown put it in your slow cooker. In the same pan, fry off the bacon pieces (you can buy packets of lardons which are cheaper than bacon slices if you prefer). Once the bacon is cooked, add that to the slow cooker.
Turn the slow cooker to high and add the beans and rest of the ingredients, but leave the salt out until later. The economy stock cubes I used were pretty salty, so it’s worth waiting until near the end to taste and see if you need to add more salt.
I cooked the pork and baked beans on high for two hours, then checked it and gave it a stir. It looked watery and I wasn’t convinced it would work. I then went out for two more hours and while I was out, magic had happened in the slow cooker. The sauce had thickened, the beans had softened and the pork and smoked bacon had given out their flavours. It had in total about 4 and a half hours on high, but cook it until the sauce has thickened and it looks, smells and tastes good.
Taste the sauce. Add more of whatever you think it needs. I added a bit more ketchup and it didn’t need any extra salt. Serve it however you like, it’s great on toast for lunch or piled on top of mashed potato.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, this works just as well in the oven. Put it in a lidded casserole dish on 160° for 2-3 hours, stir it every so often and when the sauce is thick, it’s done.
This is a great dish to cook in the depths of winter. I’m pleased as punch to have several tubs of this in my freezer for a rainy day.
If you enjoyed this, you might like to try these slow cooker recipes:
- Beef in Red Wine
- Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese
- Spanish Bravas Sausage Casserole
- Vegetarian French Onion Soup