Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Classic Baked Beans with Pork

Yes, I made old-fashioned baked beans for (one of) my Christmas dinner(s).

How many people have actually even had this dish, nowadays? Most people have eaten the version that comes out of a tin. It's not bad, for tinned food, but made-from-scratch baked beans are a revelation. Wow! So simple and so good. Of course I have my own little tweaks, the main one of which is the addition of some GINGER. Yeah, yeah, whotta surprise. I have also replaced the traditional salt pork with bacon. It is easier to find and far less likely to consist of 97% fat. Mind you, for once don't get the leanest bacon you can find - you definitely want some fat in there, to make these smooth, rich and tasty, and get you through a day of drawing water and hewing wood in the Canadian winter. Well, it's true these are not exactly low calorie. They cook for loooong time by themselves though, so they really are ideal for when you have been outside running around all day. Or perhaps you will just need to be a little discreet. *

They are very easy to make, but do take some time, what with the soaking and pre-cooking of the beans, and then their long final bake. Start them 2 evenings before you plan to eat them, or the morning of the day before.

4 to 8 servings
2 days - 20 minutes prep time

Classic Baked Beans with Pork2 cups (450 grams; 1 pound) dried white pea (navy) beans
1 large onion
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup Sucanat or dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons hot dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup light molasses
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 pound smoked bacon

In the evening, put the beans in a large pot with plenty of water to cover, and bring them to a boil. Turn the water off, and let them soak, covered, overnight.

In the morning drain off the soaking water. Return them to the pot and cover with water again. Bring them to a boil, then simmer them until they are just tender. Stir occasionally.

You could also soak the beans in the morning, and cook them in the evening. At any rate, the next morning, drain the beans, reserving the cooking water. Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Put the beans in a fairly deep casserole dish. Peel and chop the onion, and mix it with the beans.

Mix the salt, Sucanat, mustard, ginger, molasses and ketchup in a small bowl. Heat up the bean cooking liquid, and add one cup of it to the mixture in the bowl, stirring to dissolve. Stir this into the beans. Add more of the bean cooking liquid, until it looks like the top layer of beans is floating in it. Settle the bacon down into the middle of the pot.

Cover the dish and bake at 200°F for 6 to 10 hours. Seriously. I used to put this in the oven before I went to work, and come home to baked beans. Because of the very low oven temperature, they can stay in for a long and fairly flexible amount of time. If you want them faster, you can turn the temperature up to 325°F, and bake them for 3 to 4 hours, but I do think they turn out better with the long, slow cooking.

To serve, take your kitchen shears, and snip the bacon into inch-long pieces. Give the beans a good stir, and away you go. Great with cole-slaw and lots of hot buttered toast, because you haven't had enough fat and calories yet.

* Ha, ha. Good luck with that.


Kevin said...

I really like baked beans and making your own sounds good. The use of ginger sounds interesting.

Peter M said...

I love baked beans and I'm glad you posted more of the canned variety.