Maybe it’s his French-Canadian heritage, or perhaps his years as a starving student, but my husband truly adores eating baked beans. I’m a little ambivalent about them, having been served them for Saturday night dinner every single week for about 12 years. My mom knew they weren’t my favourite, but to her they were appealing as an inexpensive way to feed a family of eight. She sweetened the deal by always serving fresh homemade biscuits and a special cabbage pickle that I still adore. When I saw a bag of Dutch Brown Beans from Jambican Studio Garden in this month’s Holiday Farmer’s Feast basket from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, I thought I’d surprise my husband (he’s a pretty great guy) by making a batch of Mom’s classic baked beans. His response, upon taking the first bite? “She shoots, she scores!” Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed them, and I hope you do too. Just don’t serve them every Saturday night. And don’t forget a condiment – I served ours with Bryson Farms’ Sweet-Spicy Corn Chutney and it was a great combination.
- 1 pound (454 g) dried Dutch Brown Beans (or yellow-eyed, soldier or navy beans)
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) salt
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) baking soda
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) ketchup
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) maple or brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) molasses
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) dry mustard
- 1 cup (250 mL) boiling water
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, peeled but not sliced (leave stem end intact)
- Soak dry beans in water overnight, making sure they are completely covered.
- Drain and put in a large saucepan. Add enough fresh water to cover by about an inch (2.5 cm); add salt and baking soda.
- Bring to a boil then immediately reduce heat so the beans cook at a low simmer until they are tender and their skins are just about to burst (about 25 minutes).
- While beans are simmering, combine ketchup, sugar, molasses, maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, water and pepper and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 250F.
- Drain cooked beans and add along with the ketchup mixture to an ovensafe casserole dish that has a tight lid (or use foil). Nestle the whole onion into the middle of the beans.
- Bake, stirring occasionally, for 4 – 5 hours until beans are very tender and sauce has thickened. Top up with a bit of water if needed to keep the beans covered.
- At this point, beans can be refrigerated for up to 4 days and reheated at serving time.
- Serve hot, unless you’re like my husband, who prefers them right out of the fridge.
Serves 6 – 8.