(Transplanted) Yankee Baked Beans

“The pot of bak’d beans! With what pleasure I view it
Well season’, well pork’d by some rosy-faced dame,
And when from the glowing hot oven she drew it,
Well crisp’d and well brown’d to the table it came.
O give me my country, the land of my teens,
Of the plump Indian pudding and pot of baked Beans.”
~ A. Yankee, 1829

When one thinks of New England a few things come to mind; beautiful Fall foliage, scenic country roads, Mark Twain, lobster rolls and baked beans. And when it comes to baked beans there is one undeniable truth; they’re a classic. Baked beans are a definite comfort food, consumed at many the summertime barbecue, pot luck dinner and full English breakfast. In fact July is National Baked Bean Month, did you know that? Yeah me neither, but it is.

Not wanting to lose touch with my Yankee roots, I started experimenting with my own version of homemade baked beans a few summers ago. I’m happy to say they were an instant hit! It turns out that the U.S. Dry Bean Council (did you know there was such a thing? Yeah again, me neither.) was right, people really do love baked beans. My recipe calls for all the traditional ingredients; small white beans, brown sugar, molasses and some flavorful bits of pork, but it also gets a contemporary update from some fresh herbs, lots of onion and garlic and my oh so beloved smoked paprika.

I’ve found that these beans taste the best after they’ve sat and the flavors have had a chance to meld, so I usually make them a day or two before I plan to serve them. Then a simple reheat on the day of the party and beans are served! They’re fantastic as a side to burgers or chicken, go great with some eggs the next morning and would be the perfect accompaniment to some lovely barbecued ribs (wink, wink!). I won’t deny that these babies take a little time to pull together, they do it’s true, but they’re so totally worth the effort!

Smokey Yankee Baked Beans
Don’t be thrown by the amount of garlic the recipe calls for, after it all cooks down these beans are sweet and delicious, not overly garlicky at all. I promise!

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 11 oz. package raw Mexican chorizo, diced small
4 cups onion, chopped
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
2 tsp. smoked paprika
3 bay leaves
1 quart beef broth
2 1/2 cups water, divided
3 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. tomato paste
3 tbsp. robust molasses

  1. Sort and rinse the beans; place in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Cover the pot and let stand unrefrigerated for 8-12 hours. Drain and rinse beans, set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat a large dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering, then add the chorizo and cook 6-8 minutes or until fat begins to render. Add the onion and garlic and sauté 10 minutes or until onion is tender and translucent. Add the beans and stir to coat well with the rendered fat/onion/garlic mixture, cover and let cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Finely chop the herbs and add them and the next 5 ingredients (through broth) and 1 cup of water, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until beans are just tender.
  4. Stir in the brown sugar, remaining 1 1/2 cups water, tomato paste and molasses into the bean mixture. Cover and bake at 350°F for 1 – 1 1/2 hours or until beans are very tender and sauce is thick. Remove from oven, discard bay leaves and serve or let cool and refrigerate.*

*I think these taste the best after they’ve sat for a day. However, when you reheat them you may need to add a half cup of water to thin out the sauce a bit.

*adapted from Cooking Light

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