If you have yet to cook beans from scratch and own a slow cooker, this is the recipe for you! It comes together with pantry ingredients, requires minimal prep and thanks to the slow cooker, you’ll be rewarded with plump, perfectly tender beans with almost zero hands-on time. (Navy beans would also work well here.) Seasoned with warm spices and pickled jalapenos, they are a great side dish. Or serve them over rice or with warm tortillas as a meal.
Put the beans, chicken broth, pickled jalapeños and brine from the jar in a 4-to-7-quart slow cooker. Stir in the oregano, cumin, garlic, bay leaves, cilantro stems if using and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook on high until the beans are tender but still hold their shape, 8 to 10 hours.
Remove and discard the bay leaves. Use the back of a spoon to smash the garlic cloves, then stir them into the beans. Serve topped with the cheese, cilantro leaves and lime wedges.
Soaking the dry beans in cold water overnight before cooking doesn't improve their flavor but it will speed up the cooking and help the beans hold their shape better. If you decide to soak the beans, reduce the cooking time to 4 to 5 hours on high.
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