Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Homemade Baked Beans with Molasses and Bacon

As an aspiring foodie, I'm constantly trying to expand my food horizons.  One such recent venture has been into the land of dried beans.  Yes, I've been tackling those familiar yet mysterious pebbles found in the bulk food section.  The verdict?

Dried beans are awesome!  They are inexpensive, nutritious, and with a little forethought- very easy to prepare.  Oh, and RIDICULOUSLY delicious.  So for those of you who have been thinking about making the plunge, this recipe is a great way to dive into the world of dried beans.

So good!

This recipe combines the smokey goodness of apple wood smoked bacon with the deep savory-sweetness of molasses (along with a healthy dose of organic ketchup).  There are three major steps to this dish: an overnight soak in the fridge, a 2-3 hour simmer, and finally a 1 hour bake.  Obviously you could do all of these steps in one day (i.e. wake at the crack of dawn to put the beans to soak, boil in the mid-afternoon, and bake in the evening), however I am not an early riser, so I did the soak the evening before I wanted to eat the beans.  At any rate, this recipe is relatively simple and so delicious that you won't think anything of the minimal effort put into the extra steps.  Enjoy!

Homemade Baked Beans with Molasses and Bacon

Serves 10-12

1 1b Great Northern beans (Navy are traditional, but I prefer a larger bean.)
2 large yellow onions
1 medium carrot
1 medium stalk of celery
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
4 slices apple wood smoked bacon
1.5 cups ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1 tbsp each cider and balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1.  Sort and rinse the beans.  Place in a large bowl and cover with about two inches of water.   Cover bowl with wrap and place in fridge overnight.

2.  In the morning small dice the onion, carrot, and celery.  In a large pot or dutch oven heat the oil and add the vegetables.  When softened add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.  Now add the beans and enough water to cover them by about two inches.   Add the bay leaf. (Note:  You can either add the beans with or without the soaking liquids.  Keeping the liquid means keeping the minerals and vitamins in the water, however some say that draining the liquid can help prevent some of beans' infamous side effects.)  Bring the mix to a boil for five minutes, and then simmer 2-3 hours partially covered until beans are tender, making sure that they don't dry out.  Drain and refrigerate beans until ready to use.

3.  Preheat the oven to 325.  In a large dutch oven fry the bacon.  While the bacon is cooking dice the remaining onion and mince the remaining garlic.  When browned, remove the bacon and cook the onions in the remaining bacon grease.  Once softened add the garlic and ginger powder and cook for another minute.  Next add all of the remaining ingredients into the pot and stir with the crumbled bacon.  Once thoroughly mixed, place in the oven and bake for approximately one hour.

Serve as a traditional side to BBQ fare, or eat by themselves (they're that good!).

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