Turn your slow cooker on high and add a tablespoon of butter.
While it is melting, dice your vegetables, mince your garlic, and cut up your ham and salt pork or bacon into bite size pieces.
If you are using bacon, cook it until it is fairly crispy. Once cooked, add it to the crockpot along with the grease left in the pan.
Once the butter is melted, add your garlic, onions (and shallots), carrots, celery, and green bell pepper to your slow cooker. Stir to coat everything in butter.
Next, season with cayenne pepper, thyme, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf. Mix well.
Add your beans, then chicken stock and water.
Finally, drop in your ham hock.
Cover the crockpot, then cook for one hour on high. You want to check the liquid level in the beans once it gets cooking to make sure that you don't run out of liquid. As long as the beans are covered with some liquid, you are good to keep cooking. If all of the liquid has been absorbed, add a little more stock in 1 cup increments.
Continue cooking for 3 more hours, checking every hour or so to give everything a good stir.
After four hours have elapsed, add your ham and cook for another two hours.
The beans are ready to serve when some of the beans start to separate from their skins and they can be mushed easily. If you want to thicken the soup, remove about a cup of beans and puree them with an immersion blender. Add that back to the crockpot and mix well.
Serve over white rice and top with diced pepperoncini peppers. Add a side of cornbread to take it over the top!