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Old 06-05-2009, 12:30 PM   #1
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Baked Beans for CillaGirl

...or anyone else who wants to make baked beans.

Now before I start this recipe, you have to understand that baked beans can be made in a thousand different ways. Everybody has a favorite recipe. Some like their beans a little tangy, while others like them sweet. Still others want savory baked beans, with a hint of sweetness. And then, there are a host of sweeteners used, such as mollases (light, dark or blackstrap), brown sugar, honey, and maple syrup, to name the most popular. Some people (like me) like to add a bit of chilli powder to their beans. Some people add smoked meats, while others prefer to add a more naturally flavored meat. Meats include pork butt, bacon, ham, ham hocks, left-over ribs , and ground beef. Vegetables that are often used include onion (almost everybody adds fresh onion), sweet red bell peppers, jalepino peppers. Some even add pineapple chunks to their bake beans.

The single most important rule with baked beans is to cook the beans until soft before adding anything else. If this isn't done, and acidic ingredients, such as tomato (sauce), ketchup, piniapple, etc. are added, then the beans will toughen up and ruin your dish. No matter how long you cook the beans after they toughen, they will not again become tender. Make sure you test the beans before adding the other ingredients. Of course, you can purchase pre-cooked great northern, navy beans, black beans, etc., that are ready to use right out of the jar or can.

So now that I've given you an idea of your options, here's a basic recipe to play with.

Michigan Baked Beans
1 pound navy or Great Northern beans
1/2 lb. strips thick-cut, smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large white onion, diced
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
3 tbs. dark molasses
1/2 cup grade-B maple syrup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tbs. chili powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (optional)


Rinse the beans in a large bowl filled with water. Let sit for a few minutes and remove any flating beans or other debris. Pour off the water.

Place the beans into a large covered pot and add enough water to cover, plus three inches. Bring the beans to a boil and turn off heat. Cover and let sit for twenty minutes. Add the salt and again bring the beans to a boil. Cook over low heat for 1 hour. Remove the lid and test for tenderness. If they still aren't tender, coook another thirty minutes and re-test.

While the beans are cooking, fry the bacon until it is just done. Don't cook until it's crispy. Pour off the fat and researve for other uses. Set the cooked bacon aside.

If tender, pour off the water and transfer the beans to an oven proof pot, or a large slow-cooker. Add the bacon and remaining ingredients. Stir to evenly distribute all ingredients. Cover and cook on low heat setting for the slow cooker, or at 200 degrees in the oven for three to four hours.

Remove the beans from the heat and taste. If you like them as is, serve them up. If you don't, add more syrup, or maybe some brown sugar, a bit of liquid smoke, or whatever you think they need. If you want more sauce, stir in a half cup of water, or even apple juice. Don't be afraid to experiment. But remember, just add a little bit of whatever flavoring you want, and preferably in a seperate bowl. I you like the flavor, you can always add more. But once its in the pot, it can't be removed.

Enjoy.

Seeeeya; Goodweed of the North


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Old 06-08-2009, 06:34 AM   #2
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Thanks GoodWeed. Copy/pasted for the next baked beans experiment.
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Old 07-15-2009, 05:29 AM   #3
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I just wanted to make a comment about your instructions. After you do the quick soak method (I actually let mine sit for an hour, not 20 minutes), you add salt to the beans before cooking them. In my experience (and we eat a lot of beans from scratch), you have to cook the beans without salt. Salt will make the exterior of the beans harden and they won't cook. I would suggest waiting to add any salt until after the beans are cooked to be on the safe side. Also, I reserve the bean cooking liquid to use when baking the beans. Adds lots of flavor. Just thought I'd mention those tips. We love baked beans and I agree there are many ways to make them.
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Old 07-16-2009, 11:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
I just wanted to make a comment about your instructions. After you do the quick soak method (I actually let mine sit for an hour, not 20 minutes), you add salt to the beans before cooking them. In my experience (and we eat a lot of beans from scratch), you have to cook the beans without salt. Salt will make the exterior of the beans harden and they won't cook. I would suggest waiting to add any salt until after the beans are cooked to be on the safe side. Also, I reserve the bean cooking liquid to use when baking the beans. Adds lots of flavor. Just thought I'd mention those tips. We love baked beans and I agree there are many ways to make them.
I too have heard that adding salt to beans before they are fully softened will cause them to remain hard. So I had to find out what is what. It's how I do things. I added salt to cooking beans and boiled for an hour or so. The beans came out tender. The next time I made baked beans, I added an acidic ingredient, expecting that this would halt the tenderizing of the beans; and it did. Acids react with the bean proteins, restricting their ability to absorb water. That keeps the beans from becoming tender. Salt doesn't affect the beans. But acids sure do.

As for saving the bean liquid, if the beans are well washed, and mine are, the been liquor does hold lots of flavor, and because of the dissolved soluble fiber, when cooked down, help thicken the beans. But I'm usually in too much of a hurry to evaporate the liquid with heat. So I pour it off. I find that the brown sugar, mollasses, or maple syrup, combined with the little bit of water that is still in the bean pot, add sufficient liquid to give the beans a rich sauce.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 07-17-2009, 02:28 PM   #5
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Everyone has their own ways! I just wanted to add some of my experiences because we cook beans from dried all.the.time. and felt there was more to add.

As for the bean "liquor" that they are cooked in - we don't like sweet beans, so I've found that it helps with consistency and does add a little flavor. I supposed if you are juicing your beans up with different sugars it probably doesn't make a difference, but for our savory bean dishes it does.

The best is that everyone finds their own way and that might be some trial, some error and some advice.
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Old 07-17-2009, 05:22 PM   #6
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VeloChic, I agree with you completely. for a savory bean dish, the liquour adds great flavor. When i'm making a savory bean dish, I never drain the cooking liquid. And I also agree, that if it works for you, then do it. Now get out there and make some beans!

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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