There's a reason why slow cooker recipes are wildly popular. We want convenience, and we want—and need—it now. The slow cooker delivers just that, working hard for us while we're hard at work, welcoming us home to a fragrant dinner that's just waiting to be enjoyed. This simple appliance works miracles with tough, inexpensive cuts of meat, coaxing out incredible flavor and turning out meltingly tender results. Through its low, slow cooking, it melds and marries flavors; it brings ingredients together in delicious harmony. And it offers up a few surprises: appetizers, sides, and drinks that simmer to perfection—hands-free.
Santa Fe Black Beans
Black beans are a staple side to any Mexican dish. The slow cooker is one of our favorite tools for bean cooking. We find beans cook more evenly in the low, steady heat than they do simmering on the stovetop. They don't need to be stirred in the slow cooker, and they come out perfectly tender and creamy. Chipotle in adobo sauce lends a hint of smoky spice to the beans. We add lime juice at the end for a hit of acidic brightness—adding the juice at the beginning would cause its flavor to disappear over 10 hours. While some cooks fear adding salt to dry beans before they cook, there's no need to worry here, particularly since the beans slow-cook for 10 hours; they will absolutely get tender.