Monday, October 06, 2008


I mentioned trying this recipe a while ago, when I was desperate for something warm and savory (and leftover-hotdog-complementary) during the Broken Oven Ordeal. I’ve never before been a big fan of baked beans, but then I’ve spent most of my life not being a fan of beans in general. I’m slowly coming around to this cheap, comforting, protein- and fiber-rich staple—in fact, I just noticed this is the second bean recipe I’ve posted in a row. Whatever prompted my sudden desire for baked beans, I’m happy that I found this recipe at Simply Recipes. It's easy to throw together and tastes, to my constant amazement, just like “real” baked beans (er, that’s the Heinz canned ones I grew up with, I’m afraid), but a hundred times better, with a beautiful sweet-sour-spicy balance. In my mind, this is a DIY triumph on par with taco seasoning, ranch dressing, and pickles.

Unusually for me, I’ve made a number of adjustments to the original recipe—some on purpose, but others by accident. The first time I made this, I absentmindedly confused the directions for using dry beans with the ones for using canned beans, leading me to slow-cook my canned beans with onion and garlic—a step not actually called for in the recipe, as it turned out, but one that yielded such delicious results that I wouldn’t dream of skipping it. If you want a quicker method using the canned beans, or if you’d like to use dry beans instead (I’ll try this sometime—this winter I’m itching to get my hands on a Dutch oven and an assortment of Rancho Gordo beans; if you’re reading this, Mom, there’s a Christmas gift idea!), consult the Simply Recipes version, but here’s the way I do it, where the beans get nicely broken down (I still hate the firm, mealy texture of whole beans), almost soupy, and deeply seasoned. I’ve been craving it repeatedly over the last few months, and although I officially categorize it as a side dish, I’ll admit that our favorite way to eat this is as an entrĂ©e, in big bowls with slices of grilled hot dog (Trader Joe’s makes a good, uncured, all-beef frank) stirred in (and, don’t worry, a green salad on the side). Oh, yum.

3 (15-ounce) cans small white beans, such as cannellini or navy, undrained
1 onion, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1½ teaspoons dry mustard powder
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1–2 slices raw thick-cut bacon, chopped

1. Place beans with their can juices in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, and bay leaf, plus water as needed to cover the contents of the pot. Heat to a simmer and let cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender and some of the liquid has cooked away. Remove the bay leaf and add 1 teaspoon salt.

2. In a separate bowl, mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, mustard powder, Tabasco sauce, and pepper. Add mixture to beans, along with bacon, and stir to combine. Bring the beans to a simmer and cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes until thick.

Serves: 4–6
Time: 1½ hours
Leftover potential: High; as with soup, the flavor seems to improve over the next couple of days.


Cortney Ives said...

I can my own plain navy beans with my pressure canner and this is a great way to dress them up. I use 2 quart jars, which would equal 64 ounces if they were packed full, but I leave extra space since I can from dry beans, not pre-cooked, so it's really more around 50 ounces in mine, which is close enough to the 45 ounces that your version calls for, that I say it's all good. Thank you for your recipe!

Cortney Ives said...

I should also say that I saute the onion/garlic/spices a little before adding the beans, like I would for soup, just because that's the way I roll I guess. :-)