Crock Pot Beans and Cornbread
Simple, hearty, and flavorful, beans and cornbread is a traditional meal that's been enjoyed throughout the south, southwest, and Appalachia for generations!
Servings 8 people
FOR THE BEANS:
- 1 lb. dried pinto beans
- Cold water
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 smoked ham hock (about 10-12 ounces)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 fresh thyme sprig (or about ½ teaspoon dried thyme)
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- Optional, for serving: chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme or cilantro), chopped raw onion, chow-chow, sour cream, or grated cheese
FOR THE CORNBREAD:
- 2 cups white or yellow self-rising cornmeal mix (not plain cornmeal)
- 2 eggs (or 1 extra-large egg)
- 1 ½ cups whole buttermilk, well shaken
- ¼ cup (½ of a stick) salted butter, melted (use unsalted butter if you prefer a less-salty cornbread)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon grease, for coating the skillet
MAKE THE BEANS:
Place beans in a large bowl or pot. Cover with cold water by 2 inches. Cover and let stand overnight. Drain and rinse the beans.
Place the drained beans, broth, ham hock, onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and ground black pepper to taste in a 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker. Do not add salt at this time. Pour in enough cold water to cover the beans. Give everything a good stir.
Cover the slow cooker with a lid. Cook the beans on HIGH for 4-5 hours, or on LOW for 8-10 hours, until tender. Season with about 1 teaspoon of salt during the final 1-2 hours of cooking time. Discard ham hock, bay leaf, and thyme sprig. Use the back of a spoon or a potato masher to mash some of the beans, thickening the broth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
MAKE THE CORNBREAD:
Heat a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven while you preheat the oven to 450°F.
In a large bowl, whisk or stir together the cornmeal, eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter. Stir just until combined; do not over-mix.
Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add the oil to the hot skillet; spread to coat on the bottom and sides (I use a pastry brush for this).
Pour the batter into the greased skillet.
Bake until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cornbread comes out clean, about 15 minutes.
SERVE THE BEANS AND CORNBREAD:
Slice the cornbread into about 8-9 pieces. Ladle the beans into bowls and serve with cornbread for dipping, or place the cornbread on a plate and spoon the beans over top. Garnish with chow chow, herbs, and/or chopped onion.
- Stir the pot occasionally while the beans cook. This will help to break down them down a bit, distribute the starches, and prevent sticking.
- Smoked ham hocks can be quite salty, so wait to season the pot towards the end when you can give it a taste. Also, salting the beans too early in the cooking process can make them take longer to soften.
- The total amount of water necessary will vary. As a result, check the beans periodically as you stir them and add extra water to cover, if necessary.
- Garnish with fresh herbs (such as chopped parsley or thyme), a dash of hot sauce, pickled chow chow, a dash of vinegar, or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a bright finishing touch.
- Make sure that you're using self-rising cornmeal mix -- not plain cornmeal. The self-rising mix includes some flour, salt, and leavening agents in addition to the cornmeal.
- Use full-fat buttermilk rather than a lower-fat alternative. The fat in the liquid adds richness to the batter and helps to keep the cornbread moist.
- Let the batter rest for 5-10 minutes before baking, if you have the time. This allows the leavening agents to activate and incorporate more air.
- Don’t over-mix the batter or it will become too dense, and you'll end up with dry cornbread.
Serving: 1/8 of the beans and cornbread | Calories: 496kcal | Carbohydrates: 72g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 1003mg | Potassium: 1085mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 441IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 262mg | Iron: 6mg