Baked Beans were never on my list of favorites until my mother-in-law introduced me to this version passed on from her friend and customized by me! These tender baked beans have both a tang and just a bit of sweetness but it’s the bits of bacon permeating the dish with smoky flavor that really makes these beans delicious. The additional bacon strips that get browned and crisp on the top don’t hurt either! As much as I want to add more beans into our diet, it must be popping with flavor since I have experienced too many bland and boring bean dishes. I love how inexpensive beans are, enough that eating organic beans can even be perfectly affordable. They have strong credentials in the nutritional department, here’s a quick break down:
- B vitamins and minerals
- Anti-cancer agents
- Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids
- High-quality protein
In preparing beans, long soaking aids digestion and in the neutralization of enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid. Basically, with a little planning, you can make the most of your wonderful beans!
1 pound white beans
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
10 strips bacon, nitrate free
1/4 pound salt pork, optional (you could replace some of the bacon with excellent salt pork, if you can find it, but it’s still best to have some bacon to lay on the top.)
1/2 cup organic ketchup
1/2 cup organic unrefined sugar, rapadura, or sucanat ( I would have liked to use sucanat but instead used what I had, the raw sugar. Next time, I will actually try honey, only a VERY scant 1/2 cup.)
The day/night before:
Day of preparation. Preheat oven to 350°.
1. Drain off soaking water. Simmer beans in fresh water to cover. Add 2-3 pieces bacon or salt pork and pepper. (This bacon is the best I’ve ever tasted, having been cured by our neighbors and raised locally!)
2. Meanwhile, dice onion and celery. Add to the simmering beans and continue to cook until just tender, about 30 minutes.
4. Using a slotted spoon transfer beans to a baking dish, add the ketchup/sugar mixture and enough of the simmering liquid to cover. Taste the liquid and add a little salt if the broth isn’t flavorful enough.
5. Place the remaining strips of bacon over the beans and bake 1 1/2 -2 hours.
The beans should be bubbling and the bacon browned, crusty, and luscious!