Slow-Cooker Southwest Yankee Beans

Slow cook white beans

My husband is from Texas, with family roots in Louisiana. I was born in West Virginia, but have spent most of my life in Ohio. He served 20 years in the US Air Force, and has eaten food in many different countries. I have spent most of my life in Ohio, wistfully sampling Americanized versions of ethic cuisine. Our tastes in food are nothing alike. Our mothers’ cooking styles are as different as Texas and Ohio. But one dish stands out as a fond memory for each.

Beans. For him, it was sometimes pinto beans, sometimes red beans, and always served with rice. In my youth, it was pinto beans, cooked with bacon or ham, served with sweet, fluffy cornbread to soak up the juice. My dad would slice the bread in two, place it in his bowl, then ladle the beans over the top. His preference was to sprinkle finely chopped raw onion over the top. I don’t recall my mother being quite as fond of the onion. 🙂

As a kid, I didn’t like beans. It’s a texture thing, and I still don’t love them all the time. But if you’re looking to boost your grocery budget, a meal of beans once in a while really helps! Plus, these cook all day, and smell like memories of my mom’s kitchen.

Dave had seconds. We do Louisiana-style beans sometimes, but this is more traditional “Yankee” fare with a little Southwest twist. “Pork and Beans”, elevated to a place that felt grown-up, but still comforting.

Southwest Beans

This time, I was able to do both rice and cornbread. No, folks, that does not make a healthy meal. My fridge and cabinets were nearly empty, and I had no desire to go to the store. Some sauteed greens, a bright salad with lemon, or even some roasted beets would have added flavor and nutrition to round out the meal. But I got beans and cornbread, while hubby had his more usual beans and rice.

I used a combination of recipes to find the right balance of liquid to beans, but from there I was just using what I had on hand. Most recipes that use ham call for chicken broth, but I had homemade beef broth in the freezer, so that’s what I used. It added a richness that worked very well. My choice of spices was a little different as well, giving a distinctly Northern staple a Southwest flair. Feel free to tone down the chili powder if yours is super fresh or extra-spicy. I did use a pre-blended “chili powder”, not the powdered version of any specific chili.



Slow-Cooker Southwest-Style Yankee Beans

7 hrs
Serves 8
1 Lb White Northern Beans
2 cups Water
4 cups Beef Broth
4 Cloves Garlic
2 Small Carrots
2 Celery Stalks
1-1/2 cups Diced Ham
3 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Dried Mustard
Salt and Black Pepper to Taste

Create: Read the Instructions, then Watch the Video.

  1. Go ahead and get your beans and water into the slow cooker. I turned mine to HIGH at this point, to give the beans a head start.
  2. Peel the garlic, then smash or dice it. Size doesn’t matter a whole lot, since it will definitely cook through. Just ensure nobody gets a giant chunk.*
  3. Chop the veggies and ham. The same rule applies – dice them, but there’s no need to be all “chef-y” about getting them to 1/2 inch or something.
  4. Add the veggies, garlic, ham and remaining seasonings to the slow cooker. Go easy on the salt for now, you can always add some later.
  5. Add 4 cups beef broth.
  6. Stir it up, and put the lid back on your slow cooker.
  7. Cook for 7 hours on HIGH. Yes, I know most slow cooker recipes are 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. This is beans. Just do what I said 🙂
  8. Stir occasionally. I “checked” mine after three hours, and again at six. They were perfect for dinner after seven hours.
  9. Serve with rice OR cornbread. Unless you just need your carbs today, then do what you want. Who am I to judge?
  • I love this garlic crusher! This is not an affiliate link or paid review, I just like the gadget. It is excellent for ginger and lemongrass, too! If you’re worried about getting the garlic out from between the teeth, don’t. Once your garlic is crushed, twist a few more times to pile most of the garlic in the areas with no teeth, then just use a flick of the wrist and it pops right out. anything remaining is easily rinsed out with water. If I’m putting garlic into something like these beans, I’ll flick out the majority of the garlic, add a tablespoon or so of water, and swish in the rest. But don’t let it dry out with crushed garlic inside – then it’s a bit of a nightmare.

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