I cooked this for lunch today, putting the pot of beans in the oven (Step #4 below) first thing this morning (Steps #1-3 prepared last night).
The house smelled wonderful while I boxed up belated Christmas presents to send to family living on the other side of the US. I removed the cover from the pot in the oven (Step #5) before heading out to the post office. The baked beans were ready to eat when I got back.
Served along with some homemade sourdough bread, baked yesterday, this made a hardy lunch. Comfort food for a gray winter day.
1-2 lb Small Red Beans, Dry (or Navy Beans)
1/2 lb Low Sodium Bacon (1/4 inch dice with kitchen shears)
1/2 cup Dark Molasses
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1 cup Hot Water
1 Tbs Cider Vinegar
1/8 cup Dried Chopped Onion
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
1) Quick soak beans. (Cover with water equal to 3 times volume of beans. Boil 3 minutes, remove from heat and allow to soak 1 hour.) Drain and rinse. (Quick soaking, draining and rinsing reduces the amount of indigestible starch in the beans, thereby reducing those well known after effects that give beans such a bad reputation.) Replace water and cook until tender, 1-1 ½ hrs. Can be done a day ahead.
2) In a bowl, stir together: molasses, maple syrup, water, vinegar, onion, mustard, brown sugar, salt and spices. Can refrigerate overnight to blend flavors and hydrate dried onions.
3) Layer beans and bacon in 4-quart or larger, oven safe cooking pot, in 3 layers ending with bacon on top. Pour liquid mixture over layers. Add enough hot water to just reach top of beans.
4) Cover and bake 4 hours in 300F oven, or 6-8 hours at 250F, until beans are tender. Add water as needed to keep moist. Stir only once or twice.
5) Uncover last 30 minutes of cooking to brown. If excess liquid remains, cook uncovered until boiled away.
*Though the primary ingredients and methods in this recipe were combined from several sources, my own original twists include: small red beans substituted for navy beans, low sodium bacon in place of salt pork, half the amount of salt called for in other recipes, dried onions instead of fresh chopped, replacing half the volume of molasses in other recipes with maple syrup, and a hint of ground cloves.
COST: Less than $0.50 USD per serving. Haven't figured it out exactly.