Homemade Baked Beans
Baked beans take quite some time to prepare but the result is so worth it. I made the baked beans from scratch; I soaked dried cannellini beans overnight and slowly cooked them until tender.
I used white beans because they are our family's favorite, but you could use any other kind of legume. The baked beans make not only a wonderful side dish but also a perfect complete meal for vegetarians, thanks to all the protein in these hearty white beans.
Yields: 8 servings1 (24-ounce) package dried cannellini beans
2 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, finely minced
4 sprigs oregano
2 tablespoons soy bacon bits (optional)
½ teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce, to taste
The day before...
In a bowl wash the cannellini beans thoroughly. Pick out and discard any badly-shaped beans, then soak them overnight.
The following day...
Drain as much liquid as possible from the beans and set them aside.
In a cast iron pot, heat the oil. Cook the chopped onions for about 6-8 minutes until soft and nicely golden. Leaving as much oil as possible in the pot, transfer the onions to a platter. Set aside.
When the oil is hot again, add the garlic and sprigs of oregano. Cook for a minute. Add the cannellini beans, soy bacon bits (if used) and onions. Cook for about 3-4 minutes over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder, ketchup, tomato paste, brown sugar, maple syrup, mustard and turmeric powder. Stir well. Cover with 3 quarts of water. Bring to a boil then lower to a gentle simmer and cook for about 2 hours. Add 1-½ teaspoons of salt and liquid smoke (if used) half-way through the cooking process (the salt will bring out the natural flavor of the beans and they'll be more tender) and keep stirring every now and then so the beans don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Check the liquid and add 3 to 4 cups of boiling water. Cover one more time and extend the cooking time to one more hour.
Once the sauce thickens, check the softness of the beans (add more water and cook a bit longer if not fully cooked). Depending on how thick you like the sauce, you can blend a few cannellini beans and add them back in. Adjust seasoning and finish cooking, placing the pot in the middle of the coals of your barbecue grill. I left them for 1-¼ hours and they turn out very tender with a thick sauce, without being all mushy.
Remove and discard the sprigs of oregano (if possible) and finish the dish with Tabasco sauce if you'd like a spicy kick.
Garnish with fresh sprigs of oregano.
I used Bob's Red Mill brand dried cannellini beans.
You could also cook the cannellini beans in a slow cooker, so it's more convenient.
Make sure the cocoa powder is unsweetened; it adds an extra rich flavor to the seasoning. Some people also add coffee.
I used maple syrup but you could add honey or molasses instead.Published By: on July 5, 2011.