Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sharon's Best Baked Beans

I have been trying to master making baked beans from scratch for sometime. Our favorite brand is Bush's and while I love the flavor, I have never appreciated the ingredients that are typically included. I started experimenting with navy beans several months ago and I finally think I have a recipe worth sharing. They take a while to make, but the end result is really yummy and if you like Bush's you should enjoy these.

2 cups dried navy beans
8 cups of chicken broth(divided)
1/2 cup chopped onion
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup molasses granules(I get these through our Bread Beckers Co-op)
2 tsp mustard powder
2 T chili powder(I use homemade, if using store bought, whatever tastes best for you)
2 T liquid smoke
5 slices nitrite free bacon

Soak your beans overnight in water. In the morning, drain and replace water with 4 cups of chicken broth. I use home canned broth, so its unsalted. You should avoid adding any salt at this stage of the cooking process as salt slows the softening of the beans. Before pouring the broth over the beans, I remove the fat from the surface and place that in another pot to saute the onion and garlic. If the broth doesn't cover the beans, add some water. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until they are nearly tender. In the meantime, you can saute the onions and garlic in the chicken fat or a little olive oil(a tablespoon will suffice). Once they are starting to caramelize, pour all of it into a large 7qt crock pot. Spread out in the bottom and sprinkle the molasses granules over them. Add the mustard powder and chili powder and then the liquid smoke. Lay the slices of uncooked bacon over this, put the lid on and turn the crock on high. The bacon will begin to cook and the seasonings will meld together and form a nice sauce.

When the beans are just about done, the liquid will be almost gone. Pour the entire pot into the crock pot and stir everything together. Let the beans continue to cook on high in the crock pot until everything thickens and the beans are fully cooked.  Allow to cool and then refrigerate. The next morning, add 4 more cups of broth and cook on high again until liquid is gone and they have a thick sauce. Season to taste with sea salt(about 2 tsp) and pepper and a little more chili powder if it needs a little kick.
The beans are ready to eat. There are some ways to vary this recipe(see below).

1. When sauteing the vegetables, add a 1/2 cup of chopped red peppers. Finish as directed.

2. When sauteing the vegetables, add some chopped green chilies and eliminate the chili powder. Finish as directed

3. When the beans are poured into the crock pot. Add a package of diced hot dogs to the mix. Finish as directed.

4. for a more tomato-based sauce, add about 1/4 cup of tomato paste when you put the beans in the crockpot. Finish as directed.

4. When the beans are finished, ladle several scoops into a 11x17 pan, covering the bottom inch of the pan. Make up a batch of drop biscuit batter and spread over the top of the beans. Bake at 400 degrees until the biscuits are browned. You can also sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top of the biscuits during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

This post is a part of Fight Back Fridays by Food Renegade

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