Made a huge pot and the house smells delicious. Really warming, comforting dish for a cold and rainy day. Was really good that day and even better the next day when the flavors married. So good I ate it warmed up for breakfasts!
You could probably get away with using the ham hock and omitting the bacon, but if you have it lying around-- why not use both! Had never cooked with a ham hock before-- have a new appreciation. It is apparently the pig's ankle. Comes with dark fatty meat attached, good amount of fat and the bone for marrow/collagen. Really takes anything bean-y to the next level. I will be using ham hocks in bean soups from now on!
Soak 1 lb dry pinto beans over night in water. Then drain and add soaked beans to slow cooker.
Add to slow cooker:
1 small smoked ham hock (pig ankle, bone & meat)
2 sprigs epazote
1/2 tea oregano
1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, minced
Meanwhile, over the stove, fry up some bacon in a pan (use bacon "odds and ends" which are half the price!). Add 1 chopped onion and 5 gloves garlic (smashed) and cook until starting to brown.
Deglaze pan with 1 bottle beer (12 oz), stirring to scrape up fond from bottom of pan. Simmer until reduces slightly. Pour over the stuff in crock pot.
Add enough water to cover beans. Cover slow cooker and cook on LOW for 9-10 hours.
Add salt to taste at the end of cooking.
Serve as is like a soup, or over brown rice.