Smoky Maple Baked Beans

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Maple-Baked-Beans

I've been cooking beans from scratch frequently lately. They're such a healthy, hearty and inexpensive protein. Plus, baby loves them. When it comes to dried beans, quality - especially freshness - matters. Old beans will never get soft. I usually by mine from a health food store, where I know there is particularly high turnover.

I was super psyched when I discovered a pound and a half of gorgeous heritage cannellini beans in my last Besh Box.

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I never thought I'd be a subscription box person, but this particular box, curated personally by chef John Besh, is really, seriously fun. It's like getting a monthly christmas stocking stuffed by a chef Santa. So much excitement the day it arrives! It would make a fantastic gift that keeps giving for someone special.

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I couldn't wait to simmer the beans in a sweet-smoky-tangy sauce, and went straight to work baking Oatmeal Brown Bread to go alongside. Soft, thick, bacon-y baked beans and warm, buttered bread - ultimate comfort food, don't you think?

Keep in mind that the beans require a good, long soak before cooking - I usually soak them overnight before I plan to cook them. Also, a secret to successful bean cookery - boil to desired tenderness without any salt or acidic ingredients, or they will take forever to become soft.

The lemon juice might seem redundant with all the vinegar in the sauce, but I really recommend not omitting it - the splash of citrus brightness really boosts the end flavour.

Thank you, Chef Besh for the lovely surprises (like fresh pecans, plump vanilla beans, fragrant oregano, jalapeño seeds (!), gorgeous kitchen towels, bench scrapers...) every month!

Not a sponsored post, but in the interest of full disclosure, they offered me a sample box to see what I thought, and I asked them to pleasepleaseplease keep coming.

  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 8Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs cannellini beans
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped in 1/4" pieces
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups pureed canned tomatoes (aka passata)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tsp kosher salt (or 1 1/2 tsp table salt), approx.
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Preparation

  1. In a large stockpot, cover beans with two inches of water and let soak at least 8 hours. Drain soaking water, discard, and cover again with 2 inches of fresh water. Bring beans to a boil over high heat; reduce to a rapid simmer and cook, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are as soft as you like them (they won't soften much more in the sauce).

  2. About halfway through the beans' cooking time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Brown bacon in a large dutch oven medium heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  3. Add onions to the bacon fat and cook until tender and starting to brown, about 7 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook until it becomes a shade darker, about 2 minutes. Stir in pureed tomatoes, maple syrup, vinegar, paprika and cooked beans; stir well and season to taste with salt. Transfer to preheated oven and bake, uncovered, about 1 hour, until sauce is thick and bubbly. Stir in lemon juice.