1(10-ounce) can diced tomatoes & green chilessuch as Rotel
1cupfresh cilantro leaveschopped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Place the beans in a colander, rinse well, and remove any stones or shriveled beans.
Cook the bacon until just crispy. Drain, chop, and set aside.
Pour the beans into the slow cooker. Cover with water and beef broth. Add chopped bacon, garlic, jalapeño (if using), cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours or until almost done. Stir in the Rotel and chopped cilantro; cover and cook for an additional hour or until tender (the total cooking time will likely be between 8 to 10 hours, depending on how hot your particular slow cooker runs). When the beans are done, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste (stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt at a time, tasting before adding more).
My favorite way to cook bacon is to lay it in a deep, foil-lined baking pan and bake it on the center rack at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes.
The first time you cook beans in your slow cooker, periodically check that they remain covered with liquid. Add additional hot water during the cooking process, if necessary.
One jalapeño cooked for that many hours should add flavor rather than spice. If you prefer mild beans, scrape out and discard the seeds and membranes before dicing the jalapeño, and use mild Rotel. On the other hand, if you prefer spicy beans, feel free to add more jalapeños (leaving the seeds/membranes intact) and use regular or hot Rotel.
For Borracho Beans, swap out 6 ounces of the beef broth with Mexican beer.
If you prefer to soak your beans, simply rinse, drain, and pick over your beans. Place them in a pot, cover with 2 inches of water, and soak overnight. Drain off the soaking water before proceeding with the recipe. If beans are soaked, cooking time will probably be shortened by a couple of hours.
Always use fresh dried beans, as old beans can take much longer to become tender (and may possibly never soften!).