Reader Jeffrey Lehane of Lone Jack, Missouri, likes his beans blazingly hot: He adds as much as 1/4 cup chipotle chile powder and 4 fresh jalapeño chiles to a batch. We've toned it down a little (and it's still quite spicy), but feel free to follow Lehane's path of fire if you like. Serve with warm cornbread--and a cold bottle of Fat Tire.

Jeffrey Lehane, Lone Jack, Missouri
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Credit: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Robyn Valarik

Recipe Summary

30 mins
8 hrs
6 hrs
14 hrs 30 mins
Makes 9 cups (serves 6)


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Sort and rinse beans, put in a large bowl, and add enough water to cover by at least 3 in. Soak overnight.

  • Drain beans and put in a 5- to 6-qt. slow-cooker along with ham hock. Add ale and chicken broth. Beans should be just covered with liquid; add water if needed. Set cooker to low.

  • Toast chile powder and cumin in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Scrape spices into slow-cooker and cover.

  • Cook bacon in same pan until crisp, then drain on paper towels. Drain all but 1 tbsp. drippings from pan. Add onion and jalapeño and cook until onion is lightly browned. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, a few seconds. Crumble bacon and oregano into onion mixture, stir, and add to slow-cooker along with tomatoes. Cover and cook until beans are tender, 6 to 8 hours.

  • Transfer ham hock to a plate and shred meat off the bone with two forks. Meanwhile, turn slow-cooker to high and let beans cook, uncovered, to reduce broth until it's as thick as you like. Season with salt to taste.

  • Serve beans in large, deep bowls topped with shredded ham, green onions, and cilantro.

Nutrition Facts

613 calories; calories from fat 23%; protein 48g; fat 16g; saturated fat 4.8g; carbohydrates 67g; fiber 22g; sodium 995mg; cholesterol 83mg.