Quick Bites from Pender

Maple Baked Beans – Recipe

In Recipes on January 31, 2010 at 1:40 pm

maple-baked-beans

My Dad and I first made baked beans together when I was about 12 or 13.  I think he probably saw the Frugal Gourmet demonstrate Boston Baked Beans on PBS (the only channel to have food shows as regular programming in the early 80’s) and developed a hankering to try some for himself.

The first go was with the recipe as read directly off the package of navy beans.  But my Dad was a tweaker…

Double the  dry mustard, lighter molasses, butcher’s bacon instead of salt pork, and maybe a little cayenne.  He never made too many changes at once.  Instead, he made multiple versions until it was just right.  (We ate a lot of beans while he figured it out.)

And so he developed many of his signature recipes: BBQ Danish baby-back ribs (bottled sauce, souped up with a combination of ingredients that is now lost to us forever), potato pancakes (his Mom’s recipe — improved upon), and crab cakes with roasted red pepper aioli (adapted from Emeril).

beans-onion-salt-pork

As for myself, I’m a bit more upward oriented in the kitchen.  More let’s get somewhere — NOW.  I don’t have the patience for multiple attempts.  Wow — how’s that for a too-personal tale of the arrogance of the modern era — perhaps those Shambhala workshops weren’t so transformational as I thought at the time…

How did I get there from baked beans?  The inner workings of the human mind continue to fascinate — in contrast to my recipe posts which continue to digress at every turn. So, without further ado:

Maple syrup is lighter than molasses, both in colour and taste.  That means that these beans are comfortingly, rather than cloyingly, sweet like baked beans from a can.  The salt pork and onion break apart during cooking to leave little sweet-salty bits of each in every spoonful, while the cayenne, vinegar and dry mustard work behind the scenes to deliver some contrast to the syrup and sugar.  If you like baked beans, I’m pretty sure you’ll like these.

maple-baked-beans-up-close

Soak the beans overnight.  After that, this takes 5-10 minutes of prep to get into the oven, where it cooks over the next 5 hours without too much more attention from you.

These are better the next day, or the next day, or even the next day after that — if you have time, prepare them beforehand, then heat before serving.  We had them with cornbread for supper on the 3rd day after cooking, and on toast for breakfast on the 4th day. (More than anything, beans on toast proves that there is an Englishman living in this house.)

Maple Baked Beans

Serves 2 with leftovers.  Easily doubled.

Dried White Beans, soaked overnight 1¼ C or ½ lb 300 ml or 225 g
Salt Pork ½ lb 225 g
½ Medium Onion, cut in ½” wedges
Bay Leaf 1
Maple Syrup ¼ C 60ml
Brown Sugar ¼ C 60ml
Boiling Water ½ C 125 ml
Salt 1 t 5 ml
Dry Mustard 1 t 5 ml
Cider Vinegar 1 t 5 ml
Cayenne Pepper ¼ t 1 ml
S+P

C=Cup     g=grams    lb=pound     t=teaspoon     ml=millilitres

TT=to taste

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. With the salt pork fat or rind side down on a cutting board, score the pork DEEPLY but not all the way through into ½” cubes.

Add the pork, onion and bay leaf to a 4 litre (4 quart) casserole dish.  Cover with the pre-soaked beans.

Mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and stir to dissolve.  Pour over the beans, cover the dish and bake in the oven until beans are tender, about 4 hours, stirring once after 2 hours.

Remove lid and continue to bake until liquid has thickened to syrupy consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer. Remove beans from oven, discard the bay leaf and season with salt & pepper to taste.  Serve hot, or cool completely before refrigerating for up to 3 days.

Dried White Beans, soaked overnight

1½ C

225 g

Salt Pork

½ lb

225 g

½ Medium Onion, cut in ½” wedges

Bay Leaf

1

Maple Syrup

¼ C

60ml

Brown Sugar

¼ C

60ml

Boiling Water

½ C

125 ml

Salt

1 t

5 ml

Dry Mustard

1 t

5 ml

Cider Vinegar

1 t

5 ml

Cayenne Pepper

¼ t

1 ml

S+P

C=Cup     g=grams    lb=pound     t=teaspoon     ml=millilitres

TT=to taste

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. With the salt pork fat or rind side down on a cutting board, score the pork DEEPLY but not all the way through into ½” cubes.

Add the pork, onion and bay leaf to a 4 litre (4 quart) casserole dish.  Cover with the pre-soaked beans.

Mix together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and stir to dissolve.  Pour over the beans, cover the dish and bake in the oven until beans are tender, about 4 hours, stirring once after 2 hours.

Remove lid and continue to bake until liquid has thickened to syrupy consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer. Remove beans from oven, discard the bay leaf and season with salt & pepper to taste.  Serve hot, or cool completely before refrigerating for up to 3 days.

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