It’s almost summer. Sunny days at the pool, balmy nights…I mean, it’s practically synonymous with a hearty stew prepared in a slow cooker, right?
Okay, okay. I know. TOTAL OPPOSITES, but let me tell you why I prefer using my slow cooker in the summer more than any other season. First off, using a slow cooker keeps my kitchen nice and cool in the evenings, but more importantly, it frees up time to play outside with the kiddos. With the extended light in the evenings, my kids love to play outside with the neighborhood children during the hours of 5-7pm. Unfortunately, D doesn’t get home until the end of that time frame, so if I’m cooped up in the kitchen cooking dinner, my poor kids are forced to stay inside. Wito looks like a pathetic dog at times, his face pressed up to the window, lightly whimpering. It’s pitiful, really.
Cooking with a slow cooker a few nights a week is the perfect solution for my family. With all the prep work finished in the morning, I am free as a bird in the evenings. We love making barbecue chicken, carnitas, beans, chili…tons of great dishes that are delicious in the summer.
My current favorite is this recipe for pork and beans, and it is downright delicious. Seriously, this dish will rid any correlation you might have with pork and beans and that nasty Hormel canned stuff. SO MUCH FLAVOR.
Fair warning, though. This is not a recipe that involves throwing everything in a crockpot, pressing a button, and walking away. There is a fair amount of chopping, spice-rubbing, and sauteing, but you won’t remember a minute of it once you taste a spoonful of this. Trust me on this one.
Slow Cooker Pork and Beans
2 bacon slices
2 pounds pork ribeye roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 15-ounce cans great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 white onion, cut into small chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
 Cook the bacon in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Remove the cooked bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. In a small bowl, mix the salt, paprika, brown sugar, chile powder and cumin. Rub the spice mixture on the pork and brown the pork in the bacon fat and transfer the pork to a slow cooker. Add the beans and bacon and toss to combine.
 Add the onion, carrots and celery to the skillet and sauté for 4 minutes, stirring often, adding any extra spice rub you have. Add the flour.
 Add the chicken broth and simmer until slightly thickened, stirring often. Stir in the barbecue sauce and tomatoes and pour into the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Any slow cooker recipes that you love during the summer? I’d love to add a few to my arsenal.