From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...A too short, but lovely, visit with our youngest daughter - code name "Butterfly" - combined with the distractions of the Prefontaine Classic have thrown me dreadfully off schedule. Hopefully, I'll soon be back on track - no pun intended - and my posts will again appear as intended. In the meantime, I still have several recipes from my Beans, Biscuits and Bread series sitting in the catch-up queue. The bean recipe I'm featuring today is my personal favorite. It is an Ina Garten recipe and it's appeared in her cookbook The Barefoot Contessa at Home as well as The Stonewall Kitchen Cookbook. These beans are hot and sweet, and while they may not appeal to all tastes, they are delicious. I found the first pot I made to be too sweet, so second time around, I cut the quantities of sugar and syrup in half and found them to be delightful. I replaced the specified kidney beans with small red beans because I prefer the appearance of the smaller bean. The large beans look suspiciously like chili and that was not the look I was going for. I think you'll find these beans to have more liquid than other versions you've made in the past. If that bothers you, simply uncover the beans for the last hour of cooking so the sauce can thicken. Do make sure the beans are tender before you put them in the oven to bake. They won't soften much when they cook at the low temperature this recipe advises. I really like the play of flavors in these beans and I highly recommend them to you. I know you'll enjoy them. Here is how they are made.
Maple Baked Beans...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of the Stonewall Kitchen Cookbook and The Barefoot Contessa at Home
1 pound dry red kidney beans or 1 pound dry small red beans
1 large yellow onion, cut in eighths
1 bay leaf
6 whole black peppercorns
1/3 to 3/4 cup medium amber pure maple syrup
1/4 to 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Chinese chili paste
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
5 ounces thick-cut smoked bacon, cubed
1) Place beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water by 1 inch and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. Drain and rinse beans and then drain again.
2) Place beans in a large pot with 2 quarts water, onion, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 50 minutes, or until tender. A good test is to scoop up several beans in a spoon and blow on them; if skins start to peel off, they’re done. Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid.
3) Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
4) In a small saucepan, whisk together maple syrup, brown sugar, ketchup, chili paste, ginger, salt, and 1-1/2 cups of the cooking liquid, still reserving the rest of liquid in which beans were cooked.
Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 6 minutes.
5) Transfer beans to a medium Dutch oven or a bean pot. Push half of bacon into beans and place rest on top. Pour maple syrup sauce over beans. Place lid on top and bake for 6 to 8 hours. Check occasionally. If beans are too dry, add 1/2 cup more of the cooking liquid. If you like, you can remove the lid for the last 30 minutes to thicken the sauce. Discard the bay leaf. Serve hot. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.
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