Ok, I know I said yesterday the pulled pork was the star of Saturday's Smokapalooza but these beans almost stole the show.
I've only ever eaten baked beans from a can but after making these I've realized how simple, & better, homemade ones are. Since I'd never made them before & was going to be serving them to a group of guinea pigs, I mean guests, I went to someone I trusted with beans for a recipe, Rancho Gordo. I figure they grow amazing beans so they must have the best recipes to use them. Of course, I had to tweak the recipe a little.
We decided to flavor the beans with the same dry rub we used on the pork. This meant we could leave the sugar, salt & some of the mustard out of the recipe. Let me just say, oh my gosh these beans were so good! Sweet but not too sweet, full of smoky bacon & so tender. Matt had a little bowl to taste them when they came out of the oven. That bowl turned into a second bowl which turned into "maybe we won't serve these because I want to eat them all myself."
Since these beans need to cook low & slow for a long time I made them the day before the party & kept them in the fridge overnight. A little before dinner we put the dutch oven right on the grill to heat the beans.
(adapted from Heirloom Beans)
1 1/2 pound dry navy, yellow eye or european soldier beans or similar (we actually used a mix or navy, yellow eye & cranberry beans)
6 T dry pork rub
1 t dry mustard
2 T tomato paste
1/3 c + 1/4 c dark molasses
3 T maple syrup
3/4 pound good smoked bacon, chopped roughly
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
salt & pepper
Put the beans in enough water to cover them by an inch & let them soak for about 2 hours.
Pour the beans & soaking water into a large pot. Add more water to cover the beans but about an inch. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer uncovered until the beans just begin to soften, 45 - 60 minutes.
Drain the beans, retaining the cooking water. Add enough water to the cooking water to measure 3 cups. Whisk the rub, mustard, tomato paste, molasses & maple syrup into the water.
Preheat oven to 250 F.
Put 1/2 of the beans into a large dutch oven or similar pot. Top with half of the onions & all the bacon. Add remaining beans. Sprinkle the remaining onions over the top. Pour the sauce in. Cover & bake for 5 - 7 hours. Check from time to time to see if they need a little more water (mine never did). The beans should be VERY tender & the sauce should be thick & stick to the beans.
About 14 servings
I made 1/3 of this recipe this week for Matt & I & did it all in the crock pot. After the soaking I cooked the beans in the crock pot on high for about 1 1/2 hours. I drained the cooked beans saving the liquid. Then reassembled the beans with the seasonings, liquid, bacon & onions back into the crock pot. I let it cook on low for about 6 hours & they came out beautifully without heating up the kitchen at all.
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