Monday, August 12, 2013

Best Baked Beans

My love for beans is a fact of which I refuse to be ashamed. Beans freshly boiled with a stick of kombu seaweed in the pot,  served in a bowl with heaps of melted butter is my favorite style of bean-eating. But I don't take that homely dish to potlucks. If I want to get my beans into a potluck, they have to be dressed for society. And if I want to get my society beans into me too, I have to dress them carefully. No sugar, soy, tomato sauce or nitrates are allowed to defile them. So this is one way I've dressed my beans for society.

Best Baked Beans - Slow-Cooker Style

1/2 lb. kidney beans
1/2 lb. great northern or navy beans
1/4 lb. large lima or butter beans
Cook the beans. That is, soaked overnight or quick-soaked (brought to a boil in water, then allowed to sit with heat off for an hour before cooking), drained, and cooked in salted water till tender, but not mushy - they will be cooked longer!

(You can use canned beans if you prefer. I cooked my kidney beans from dry and used 2 cans of Northern and one of butter beans. If you have all three beans in dry form, they can be cooked in one pot.)

Drain beans and dump beans into your slow cooker crock.  Then stir in:

2 T dried minced onion
1-2 T maple syrup (or if you're not being purist, brown sugar)
1 T unsulphured molasses
1/3 c. dijon mustard --key ingredient!
1/2 c. water (you can reserve 1/2 c of the bean liquid if you prefer)
1-2 T bacon grease, beef tallow, turkey fat, lard or butter
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Salt to taste - depending on how salty your cooked beans are. Taste them and see if they need salt.

Stir all the seasonings in thoroughly. Then cover your crock and cook  the beans on low for 4 hours or on high for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The beans can continue to be cooked on low for a long time and just get better and better. 

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