Sunday, February 12, 2017

Slow Cooker Maple Baked Beans


This recipe appeared as my column in the February 9th edition of The Hinton Voice. 

[I fell in love with Maple Baked Beans on my first trip out east.  I was staying a mere 18 km from the Montreal border and beans were a staple at every single store I walked into.  In fact, even the tiny town I was staying in had their very own bean factory that had line ups well into the afternoon, until they inevitably sold out for the day.  Every local I visited had beans in their fridge, and they came out at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Needless to say, once I was back home in Alberta, the flavour of freshly baked beans were ingrained in my memory, and I knew I had to try to re-create them at home.

As with many recipes, I try to wing it based on flavours alone.  While I ended up having the sauce down to a science, I didn’t soak the beans. If you’ve ever cooked with dry beans before, you know this is a necessary step – something even the package tells you to do (the irony that this happened to someone who now spends the greater part of her career writing out instructions is not lost on me). I ended up with hard little pellets that resembled nothing even close to their delicious counterparts.   I tried again, this time soaking the beans for a full 12 hours – and that’s when magic happened.  The recipe came together exactly how it should, which is the funny thing that happens when you follow the instructions.]


Ingredients

- 1 L (4 cups) dry navy beans (white beans)
- 2 L (8 cups) water, for soaking
- 1.5 L (6 cups) cold water, for cooking
- 1 cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- ¼ cup barbecue sauce
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- ½ tsp each sea salt and ground pepper

Directions

Start by soaking the beans overnight.  Do not try to rush this step; the beans need to soak for a minimum of 8 hours to work for this recipe.  If you end up soaking the beans for longer than 12 hours, be sure to rinse them and replace the water every 12 hours or so (up to a maximum of 2 days).  You want to cover the beans leaving ample water for the beans to absorb.  If you check and your beans have absorbed all the water, you’re starting over again.  Extra water is key.

Once beans have adequately soaked, rinse, drain, and add to the slow cooker with 6 cups of fresh cold water.  Add remaining ingredients; give the beans a good stir.  Cook on low heat for 8-12 hours, or until beans are soft and most of the liquid has absorbed.   The beans are ready to eat, however they will be better the next day once the flavours have had a chance to marry.  

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