I have always wanted a bean crock. Sure, I have cast iron Dutch oven in two sizes that make wonderful beans either in the campfire or in the oven. I also have Pyrex roasters that make excellent beans. However, I have always wanted a more traditional ceramic bean pot. That desire was recently fulfilled. A recent sale at Gander Mountain brought us there for my wife to get some winter clothing (they offer women’s sizes, not just small men’s sizes). While she was busy shopping, I wandered about the store. I found a clearance table over by the camping goods and there were a selection of bean pots. Needless to say, one of those bean pots found its way into our shopping cart and I was, need I say it, a “happy camper.”
After I got it home and washed, I looked through my recipes to see what which variety to make. I chose my recipe for Campfire Beans , a lighter alternative to the New England favorite, Bean Hole Beans. Recently moved to Tennessee and in homage to the new home-ground I decided to use traditional sweeteners of the Smoky Mountains, sorghum and honey, in place of molasses.
As soon as I started, I realized there was something I overlooked. I usually make beans in my 10-inch, 5-quart cast iron Dutch oven. The bean crock is not that big; it is about the same size as my 8-inch, 2-quart Dutch oven. That means there is no room in the pot for the beans and a big ol’e ham bone. I have to re-think my usual recipes intended for the Dutch oven and do a bit of resizing and substitution to accommodate the smaller pot. Some time ago, I came across 5-ounce cans of diced ham in the supermarket canned meat section. I was a bit leery at first but tried a can just to see. It was actually quite good and a good substitute for a bit of fresh diced ham say for an omelet when a larger piece if eat would be a waste. I keep several in the pantry and I use a can in this, my first bean crock endeavor. Also, I added a bit of liquid smoke to add the flavor that would have been imparted by wood coals of I were cooking the beans in a hole in the ground. I managed to get everything to fit into the pot.
There are a lot of canned beans out there and some are very, very good. However, they will never be as good as the beans you prepare to your own personalized recipe. If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and try it. It really isn’t all that hard. Just use this recipe as a starting point and go from there.