The other day I told you about the coronation grape granita I made for company, and how wonderful that was. Well, lately whenever we’ve got guests, Nick insists that we have ribs so before the granita, we had several racks of pork ribs, a batch of cornbread with blackberries that I was kind of disappointed in, and baked beans. Which I was not disappointed in, because they were awesome. It wasn’t just me who thought so, either, which is the mark of a good recipe. I suppose.
I made these in a crock pot earlier in the day and then set them aside because I wasn’t doing much in the morning – I let them cool and then reheated them in a much more attractive pot, which I served them in. And while from first step to final step actually took somewhere in the neighbourhood of 22 full hours, they weren’t actually much work. You don’t have to do much – it’s all waiting. And it costs, like, nothing to make. All you need is a crock pot – but if you don’t have one, you can make these in the oven – bake covered at 250°F for 8 hours, remove the lid and cook for an additional 30 minutes. I haven’t tried it that way, but it sounds legit.
- 1 lb. dried small white beans, such as navy or pea beans (actually, dried black beans of about the same size would probably also be awesome)
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 lb. bacon
- 1 cup beer (whatever you’re using for the ribs, or else something in an amber or cream ale would be nice)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 5.5 oz. can of tomato paste
- 2 tsp. dry mustard
- 2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pour dried beans into a 9″x13″ glass baking dish, and cover with water, to about 1/2 an inch over the tops of the beans. Soak for eight hours, or overnight.
When you’re ready to start, boil the beans in six cups of water, with the salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, and then remove from heat and let sit, still uncovered, for 90 minutes.
Fry up your bacon and your onions, until the onions are golden and translucent and your bacon is brown and crisp. Deglaze the pan with the beer, scraping up any delicious flavour bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour over the beans, then add the sugar, molasses, tomato paste, cinnamon, mustard, cayenne pepper, and black pepper.
Mix thoroughly, and then pour the whole thing into your crock pot. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or, like I did, on high for 5 to 7 hours. I ended up cooking mine about six, but I think it depends on your crock pot. My mom once made baked beans in a brand new crock pot using the low and slow method overnight, which was how she always did it, and woke to find that the pot had cremated the beans overnight, leaving a black, crusty mess behind. I like the 5 to 7 hour plan, because if you do it when you’re awake, you can monitor the beans’ progress. Taste and check your seasoning. They’ll be smokey delicious.
As I said, you can totally take these and cool them off, and then reheat them before serving, and they’ll be fine. Delicious, even. You may want to cook them a bit over low heat to reduce the sauce, if it’s runny.
Serve, to all kinds of acclaim. I heard they might even be better than the ribs. Maybe. Says Nick, who only wants to eat beans and meat for the rest of his life. Enjoy!