The problem with blogging again is that I am finding a backlog of recipes to add and not enough time to add them! I was going to add a butchered version of Dorie Greenspan's Shepherds Pie (except she uses the fancy french name, but I am not). I also wanted to add the recipe for the Green Chile Pesto (also known in these parts as Cilantro Pecan Pesto). I also made serious alterations to Greenspan's Espresso Cheesecake Brownies I wanted to document for posterity.
Alas, I am posting none of those wonderful recipes tonight because this one recipe blew everyone of those completely and totally away.
I'm talking about Baked Beans. Baked beans the way they are supposed to taste, without being overly salty, without mystery ingredients, with only minimal use of a can opener. These baked beans start with dried beans and end either with a long, slow stint in the oven or a day in the crockpot.
We all loved these beans. My boy, J, who's six these days, told me these were the best beans he's ever had. He had to qualify the statement though. "Not because you made them, Mommy. Because they're just like the beans we had at Vacation Bible School." ?????? What????? To which, M, who's eight, helped me out and said, "We've never had beans at VBS." "Oh yes," John replied. "Not this year, but last year." What?????? I am fairly confident our VBS snack goddess (can I say that?) didn't serve the kids baked beans, either homemade or out of can. But whatever. My beans were that good.
I modified 100 Days of Real Food's recipe for slow cooker baked beans, basically because I didn't start this recipe two days ago. In the original recipe, the beans do their first soak overnight (like is typical with dried beans. Personally, I've had little success with the quick soak/boil method and prefer the soak in a bowl overnight method). Then, they simmer away in a crockpot for 10 - 12 hours. Yep. Didn't start the beans until last night and didn't have twelve hours (to be on the safe side) between when I rolled out of bed and supper. So, here's the one day, heat up your whole house even though it's 100 degrees out but I don't care because I WANT BEANS!!! version.
A note on quantities. I halved this recipe. I never, ever should have done that. We served the beans sparingly, worried that if we ate to our heart's content, we may not have leftovers. I wanted leftovers. Next time, I am not halving the recipe. (Note to self: DON'T HALVE THIS RECIPE!!!)
This serves 8 - 10 if you eat something besides baked beans for supper.
Old School Baked Beans
adapted from 100daysofrealfood.com
2 1/2 c (approx 1 lb) dried navy beans (or Great Northern beans).
8 oz bacon, diced
2 - 4 red sweet peppers (or 1 red or green bell pepper will do as well), diced
1 onion, cut into 1/8th's
1 c water
1 - 15 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 - 3/4 c maple syrup (I thought 3/4 c was a bit too sweet)
3 T yellow mustard
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 t chili powder
1 t salt, or to taste
Soak the beans overnight in a bowl, covered with two inches of water (about to your second knuckle--more than the beans in the bowl). Be sure to remove any stones that may be in with the beans.
The next day, fry the diced bacon. Drain on paper towels, reserving fat. Drain the beans well. Place the beans, bacon, pepper, and onion in the bottom of a large casserole dish. Pour in water and tomato sauce. In a measuring cup, combine maple syrup, mustard, vinegar and chili powder. Pour over the beans and combine. If desired, pour a T or so of the reserved bacon fat over the bean mixture as well (a little flavor boost! Why waste good bacon fat?).
Bake in a preheated 325 degrees oven for 2 hours. Lower the heat and cook for an additional 2 1/2 - 4 hours, or until beans are soft. Stir every 1/2 hr or so. If beans look dry, add a little additional water.
Before serving, removed onion wedges if desired. Enjoy!