Homemade baked beans have been on my mind lately. Maybe it’s all the barbecue and baked bean posts I see as Labor Day approaches. In any event, I once made Boston baked beans from scratch in the oven. The result was truly memorable, and a far cry from the canned stuff. But it meant keeping the oven on for hours in the pre-slow cooker era. When Coleen of my Progressive Eats group announced that our theme for August is Caribbean food, I decided to make a Jamaican version the easy way – Slow Cooker Jamaican Baked Beans.
The beans in this dish are soft enough to be enjoyable, but they don’t fall apart. There is enough gravy to enjoy with rice, yet it does not overwhelm the beans. The flavor, developed over hours of slow cooking, is addictive. Not as sweet as Boston baked beans, slightly spicy (or even spicier if you want to use a hotter chili than a jalapeno), and thoroughly delightful.
Two other recipes inspired these Slow Cooker Jamaican Beans: Jamaican Baked Beans from the 1961 edition of The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne and Caribbean Style Homemade Baked Beans by an absolutely adorable guy named Chris De La Rosa, who blogs at Caribbean Pot. (Definitely check out the beginning of Chris’ video on making beans, where he razzes his own mother for serving him beans from a can instead of making him homemade beans. A perfect son-to-mother put down with a huge dollop of love on top.) For the timing of slow cooked beans, I consulted one of my go-to sources, Elise Bauer, of Simply Recipes.
This recipe is especially simple because it does not involve pre-soaking the beans overnight. I’ve been won over to the “no pre-soaking” school by this LA Times article. The author, Russ Parsons, is an award winning food journalist and a man after my own heart. When he wanted to know whether you should pre-soak beans, he not only asked well regarded chefs and foodies, he tested various hypotheses. His reasoning is sound, his research methods were thoughtful, and his conclusions make sense to me.
Tips for Making Easy Slow Cooker Jamaican Baked Beans
- Baked Beans Take Time – The key to this dish is long, slow cooking – about 8 hours. It’s a perfect dish to start in the morning, finish by dinnertime, and serve or refrigerate for the next day. These beans cook on a “low” slow cooker setting. However that’s not a set temperature. It depends on the brand and age of the slow cooker. So take the timing as a guide, not an absolute. By the way, Elise Bauer says you have to pre-soak the beans to have them cook in 8 hours. I beg to disagree. Even with dry beans never soaked, mine were done in about 8 hours.
- Seasonings – The spicy heat of a chili pepper, nutmeg, and the particular scent of allspice are the main ingredients that differentiate the taste of these beans from Boston baked beans. Although allspice berries or fresh nutmeg are ideal, dried allspice and nutmeg powders are good substitutes, as long as they are fresh.
- How hot do you like your food? In Chris De La Rosa/Caribbean Pot’s version, he uses half a scotch bonnet pepper without seeds. However, I thought that would be too hot, as scotch bonnets rank among the hottest peppers on the Scoville scale I settled for an entire jalapeno, seeded, which is quite a bit milder. Although my beans needed a bit more heat for my taste, I was happy adding hot sauce at the table to get the level of spiciness just right.
Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month we’re featuring dishes native to or inspired by the islands of the Caribbean. Our event is hosted by Coleen who blogs at The Redhead Baker. Our dishes this month are inspired by the cuisines of Jamaica, Cuba, The Bahamas and more. You’ll certainly find a delicious recipe to add to your repertoire!
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
Taste of the Caribbean Progressive Eats Menu
- Caribbean Shrimp and Grits from Creative Culinary
- Cuban Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos with Candied Plantains from The Wimpy Vegetarian
- Instant Pot Jamaican Goat Curry from Spice Roots
- Easy Slow Cooker Jamaican Baked Beans from Mother Would Know
- Red Beans and Coconut Rice from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen
- Bahamian Rum Cake from The Redhead Baker
- Coconut Macaroons from That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Vegan Mango Pineapple Fool from Pastry Chef Online
Easy Slow Cooker Jamaican Baked Beans
- 1 pound dried white navy or pea beans About 2- 2 1/2 cups.
- 12 ounces bacon, cut into pieces
- 1 onion, chopped About 1 1/2 cups
- 1/2 -1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
- 4 - 5 cups boiling water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup molasses
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 8-10 allspice berries
- 1-2 pinches freshly grated nutmeg
- 1`-2 pinches dried thyme leaves
Place half of the bacon and onion in the bottom of the slow cooker
Spread the dry beans evenly over the bacon and onion. Top those two layers with the rest of the bacon and onion, and the diced jalapeno pepper.
Put all of the rest of the ingredients into 1 cup of the boiling water and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour that mixture and 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups of boiling water on top of the onion, bacon, beans, and diced jalapeno pepper. The beans should be covered with liquid.
Put the slow cooker on a low setting. Check after 2-3 hours and add more boiling water if necessary. Continue cooking until the beans are as soft as desired, probably about 8 hours total.
When you add the boiling water to the dried beans, a few wrinkled ones may float to the top. Pull those out.