Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Slow Cooker Fresh Green Beans

Fresh green beans, slow stewed Southern-style all day, with fatback, salt pork or bacon and potatoes, prepared in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Fresh Green Beans

I love green beans!

Well, truth is I love vegetables in general really, but green beans are my number one most prepared side dish, because they're an easy, tasty side dish and thank goodness my veggie adverse husband eats them too.

They are my in a hurry go-to side when I need to add something green to a plate of protein and carbs and they're much quicker than whipping up a garden salad, although in reality, my hubby thinks a plate of torn up iceberg lettuce qualifies as a salad!
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Though I fix either the stovetop slow stewed or quick fix versions the most, I think I have somewhere around 20 green bean recipes on the website by now, with more to come over time, and I enjoy them all!

Using your slow cooker is a great way to get that slow stew flavor in a way requiring minimal prep and requiring much less attention, since the slow cooker does all the work.

Here's what you'll need to make my Slow Cooker Fresh Green Beans:
  • 2 pounds of fresh green beans (snap, pole, Kentucky runners or half runners when possible)
  • 4-1/2 cups chicken stock or broth, or use water with a good chicken base, like Better than Bouillon
  • 5 ounces chopped fatback, rinsed salt pork or 6 slices chopped bacon
  • Sweet onion - Vidalia when in season, though you can substitute yellow onion
  • 4 medium sized red potatoes or 6 smaller ones, scrubbed but left whole
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, Cajun or Creole seasoning and at the end, salt, but only if needed, so taste first!
  • A little butter to finish
I've kept it pretty simple here, but there's lots of room for versatility to make them your own too!
  1. For instance, I love garlic personally, but here I prefer these beans without it. You may prefer your beans with.
  2. Mushrooms are a popular add-in as well, and though I also love mushrooms, I prefer these green beans without them. Add mushrooms towards the end of the cooking time if you use them.
  3. Although bacon is the most popular seasoning meat, swap it out for other meats, such as ham hocks, chunks of smoked or baked ham, smoked sausage, tasso or smoked turkey.
  4. Some folks like to add in peppers, either hot or sweet depending on your preferences.
  5. Toss in a can of diced or stewed tomatoes.
  6. For sweetness, add a little granulated or light brown sugar
  7. Swap out for a seasoned salt (like Lawry's) instead of regular table, sea or kosher salt.
  8. Add herbs, dried or fresh. Personally, I like using Bragg's Sprinkles in a lot of my cooking.
  9. A splash of vinegar at the end can brighten up the flavor as well.
Make them your own!

While you can certainly cook frozen green beans, and even canned beans in the slow cooker - especially if you happen to like the more southern-style "cooked to death" style of green beans, which by the way, are delicious too - I'm using whole fresh green beans in this recipe.

Trim, snap green beans in half or thirds and rinse well.

Tip: If you have a slow cooker that has a sauté function, use it to preheat the contents as you prep!

I like to have my beans cook in a good bit of pot likker, so I probably use a little more liquid than some folks do. I've seen recipes with as little as 1/2 cup, but in my opinion, the beans look shriveled and dehydrated with so little liquid.

Place the green beans into a 6-quart slow cooker along with 4-1/2 cups chicken stock or broth, or water with a good chicken base like Better than Bouillon. Top with 5 ounces cut up fatback, salt pork that has been rinsed or 6 slices of a good quality bacon, cut up.

Add a good dose of pepper. I am purposely not using salt yet, due to the sodium in the ingredients used. I'll add some at the end if I need it.

I love onions and use it regularly with my quick fix version of green beans so I thought I'd add some here. Give it a stir.

Add whole potatoes on top of the beans. I'm using rinsed and scrubbed, medium sized, skin on, whole red potatoes here. I just think that the potatoes hold up better in the slow cooker when cooked whole. In my opinion, the potatoes tend to get a little too discolored when cut up before cooking and can also break down quite a bit, so I went with cooking them whole.

Today I'm using the slow cooker function on one of my Instant Pots. I refer to the Instant Pot all the time on my website as an electronic pressure cooker but it's actually a multifunction cooker. This one is the 6-quart Pioneer Woman branded pot (which is apparently no longer available) and while all of the models vary from one another, these are the functions available on mine. If you're shopping for a pot, just check out the functions and choose the one that fits into your cooking needs.

The pots that have a Slow Cook function generally provide a separate lid from the pressure cooker lid.

Cover and cook on LOW until tender, about 7 to 8 hours, or to desired tenderness, stirring occasionally. My beans and potatoes were ready at 7 hours.  All brands of slow cookers vary in how they cook so you may need more or less time. I do prefer using a LOW setting for these, rather than cooking them on HIGH. Cooking them on high may take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours, but I think the quality is better on low.

Remove potatoes and set aside to cube once cool enough to handle.

Taste and adjust beans for seasonings, adding salt only as needed. Stir in the butter or you can use bacon drippings if you keep a grease pot handy.

Return potatoes to the pot and stir in gently so as not to break them up. Hold in slow cooker on warm until needed, or transfer to serving dish along with some of the bean liquor.

For more of my favorite green bean recipes, check out this collectiion on my Pinterest page!

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