Not Your Mother’s Baked Beans

April 3rd, 2010

I don’t know about you, but my Mother always made her baked beans by doctoring up the canned variety of baked beans with ketchup, onion and brown sugar. For years I have been making baked beans by first opening a can and adding a variety of things from sausage to green peppers. I remember that years ago my Aunt Ruth always brought baked beans to our Christmas Eve celebration and everyone thought they were so special because she started out with dried great northern beans. I don’t know what took me so long to actually make beans from scratch, so to speak, but I am so glad that I did and no canned beans will ever grace my pantry again. They take time, but it is waiting time, not active time, so if you plan ahead you will be rewarded with the best baked beans you have ever tasted.

The recipe that I chose to follow came from Ina Garten. I trust her instincts and liked her ingredients. Instead of great northern or other white beans, she used dried red kidney beans. She flavored them with pure maple syrup, brown sugar, ketchup, Chinese chili paste and fresh ginger. Thick cut bacon cubes were added for meatiness. As I write this at 5:00 AM on Saturday morning, I am thinking about going to the refrigerator and scooping out a serving and warming the beans for breakfast. They were that good. If you are serving ham for Easter on Sunday, this would be the perfect side dish. Happy Easter.

MAPLE BAKED BEANS (From The Barefoot Contessa at Home)

1 pound dry red kidney beans
1 large yellow onion, cut in eighths
1 bay leaf
6 whole black peppercorns
3/4 cup medium amber pure maple syrup
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Chinese chili paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces thick-cut bacon, cubed

Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water by 1 inch and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overningt. Drain and rinse the beans and then drain again.

Place the beans in a large pot with 2 quarts water, the onion, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 50 minutes, or until tender. A good test is to scoop up several beans in a spoon and blow on them; if the skins start to peel off, they’re done. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. In a small saucepan, whisk together the maple syrup, brown sugar, ketchup, chili paste, ginger, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid, still reserving the remaining liquid. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 6 minutes.

Transfer the beans to a medium Dutch oven or a bean pot. Push half the bacon into the beans and place the rest on the top. Pour the maple syrup sauce over the beans. Place the lid on top and bake for 6 to 8 hours. Check occasionally; if the beans are too dry, add 1/2 cup more of the cooking liquid. You can remove the lid for the last 30 minutes to thicken the sauce. Discard the bay leaf. Serve hot.

12 responses to “Not Your Mother’s Baked Beans”

  1. Lyla says:

    I, too, am up early this morning, Penny, and if I had dried kidney beans in the house, I would get started on your mouth-watering baked beans–they look that good! My mother, too, cultivated the art of doctored-up canned baked beans so I am always up for a great recipe for the real thing. Thanks so much–again.

  2. Susan says:

    Oh my, can I come for breakfast? I love Ina and this recipes needs to be tried by me. Thank you for sharing and I wish you a Happy Easter weekend.

  3. Penny, my mother “doctored” pork n’ beans too. I always thought that was strange, since she cooked everything else from scratch. I imagine she didn’t like them and only made them for us. Ina’s sound like heaven compared the the canned variety.

    Hope you have a wonderful Easter with your family.

  4. Kate says:

    Penny, I had to chuckle because for years we have eaten my mom’s doctored baked beans! Open the can, add ketchup, dried mustard, etc….our mom’s all seem to have cooked alike. I wonder what will be said about us!

    These look delicious. I will be trying them out. If they are good enough for you to want for breakfast 🙂 then they will be awesome for dinner!!

  5. I am not a fan of canned beans, but when they are homemade they have a whole new appeal to me.

  6. among bbQ and smokers, beans are a bragging ritual… These will get you into any BBQ gathering, they look great!

  7. Penny, I made my first home-baked beans two months ago, and I cannot figure out why I waited so long either. I guess it’s because the canned variety aren’t that bad and were easy to doctor. But I did like mine better, and would love to taste yours.

  8. Mary says:

    These beans look fantastic, Penny. I don’t make them often, but next time I do I’ll try this recioe. I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Blessings…Mary

  9. Barbara says:

    My mother did the same thing, Penny! And so did I..for lots of years!
    I’ve made the real McCoy a couple times when I had to take something special for a picnic, but I’ve never tried Ina’s recipe. It looks wonderful!

    Happy Easter Weekend!

  10. grace says:

    i won’t lie, penny–that sounds like an awesome breakfast on this nippy morning. on warmer days, i’d eat ’em straight from the fridge! i’m also guilty of doctoring up a can of baked beans, but you’re so right–all the way from scratch is the way to go! lovely recipe. 🙂

  11. Katy ~ says:

    I love love love baked beans. These look super!

  12. Diana Bauman says:

    This post made me smile, as the canned way is also how my mother in’ law taught me how to make baked beans. Since then I’ve made my own from scratch with not so great results. I’m going to be trying this one for sure. What a wonderful recipe 🙂

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