Baked beans with homemade bacon.

The best baked beans we have ever eaten; and my first attempt at cooking them. Motivation due to Country Coburn’s request.

You could consider this a “basic white bean” recipe + bacon & spice addition. The basic bean recipe base:

  1. 1.5 cups dried navy beans, unsoaked pressure cooked for 15 min. with 6 cloves smashed garlic (and a little olive oil).Pressure naturally dropped. Drain beans but reserve liquid. Put beans into a dutch oven or casserole, and add…
  2. One yellow onion, chopped;
  3. Three tomatoes, chopped (you could use one can of crushed tomatoes).

Now for the meat and spices. Add to the dutch oven:

  1. 1/2 cup homemade, smoked lardons (or pancetta) (smoking is optional, but recommended by us;
  2. 1/8 to 1/4 cup brown sugar (+ more to taste later on);
  3. 2T blackstrap molasses (+ more to taste later on);
  4. 2T horseradish mustard (+ more to taste later on);
  5. Scant pinch of cloves (or you could just quarter the onion in lieu of dicing and pin the quarters with a single clove;
  6. Fresh ground pepper to taste;
  7. NO SALT (unless desired toward the end of cooking)–the bacon takes care of that;
  8. Reserved cooking liquid to cover.

Bring to boil on stove top and pop dutch oven into a 350 degree oven.

I added too much water at the onset. Good for soup, but bad for beans. So I 1) removed a bunch of liquid (putting the pot back into the oven with the lid off to facilitate liquid loss via evaporation) 2) put the liquid into a saucier, 3) added more mustard, brown sugar, & molasses (i.e., adjusted spice to taste, to the tune of doubling the spices–but no more cloves), 4) reduced liquid by half, and 5) returned glaze to pot in oven.

After returning glaze, cook for 1/2 hour or longer to facilitate liquid loss and browning on top of beans (and of exposed bacon pieces).

The motivation to cook baked beans was due to a photo in the River Cottage Meat Book, though my ingredients, ratios, and procedure differ from the recipe included therein (Fearnley-Whittingstall takes 5 hours to cook his at 275 degrees, recommends only pancetta (not smoked bacon), does not use tomatoes or garlic, etc., and uses a lower amount of the spices). Our result was fantastic. The best baked beans ever. We have also used uncured pork belly lardons, complete with skin, in lieu of cured bacon/pancetta with no degradation of quality. Just don’t use store bought bacon of any kind–even the fancy stuff. If it has already been sliced, you will be disappointed.

Click on the thumb for a few pictures.



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