This weekend, approximately 150 of my dad’s relatives gathered for our annual family reunion. My grandfather was one of nine siblings. Each summer, of those nine families undertakes the monumental task of assembling all of us in one place. Every family that comes brings both a dessert and a main course dish. For dessert, I made my chelsea buns, but in two bite size. For my main course dish, I brought Maple Baked Beans.
- 1 lb (approximately 2 cups) dry navy beans
- 4 qt water
- 6 slices bacon or 1 cup ham, chopped
- 1 medium onion
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 5 tsp cider vinegar
- 1 tsp prepared mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
Sort through your beans and discard any shrivelled, damaged, or non-beans (hey, rocks happen). Place them in a heavy pot, preferably a dutch oven with 2 qt of water. Bring them to a boil, turn down to a simmer for 2 minutes, let stand, with the lid on , about an hour. Drain and rinse the beans, cover with the other 2 qts of water, boil, drop to a simmer for 30-40 minutes. Drain the water off (but keep it this time).
Now! Onto the good part!
By now, your beans will look like this. Pretty plump, not crunchy, but still definitely on the al dente side. If you happen to have a smoked ham hock lying around, this would be an excellent place to use it. Boil it in with the beans to impart that rich smoky flavour. If you don’t happen to have one, don’t worry, almost any type of pig will do. Well, maybe not sausage. But almost anything else.
The original recipe calls for onion. Feel free to substitute chili sauce. My little grocery store does not apparently carry such an exotic thing (although it does sell fresh sugar cane – go figure). However, the Master Seamstress makes an incredible concoction called steak sauce. Having a jar of that on hand, into the pot it went. If you do something like this, you can skip the onion.
To add some zip, I used a spicy ketchup.
And ALWAYS REAL MAPLE SYRUP.
It will look like this – a giant pot full of potential. Sure, all the flavours will be there, but they need time and heat. Pop it into the oven for 2 1/2 hours at 350 F, lid on. Somewhere around the one hour mark, your home will begin to smell fantastic. As long as your pot is heavy enough, there will be no need to stir it. Of course, the smell in your home may drive you to check on what’s brewing.
What on earth is this? This is the reserved boiling liquid. You may find that the beans absorb too much of the cooking liquid. You will want to reserve this and add some back in if that happens.
The finished product. Please note: It will not look like the ones out of the can. These ones will have much more depth and breadth of flavour. These only get better with age. Feel free to make them up a day or two ahead of time, pop them in the fridge, and then reheat them when it is time to serve. These work very well in the crock pot. The initial bean boiling needs to be done on the stove top, but the cooking can be done throughout the day, or even overnight, in your crockpot.
Follow Mama: Cooking