My Baked Beans

There are five secrets to taking little dried white pea (or navy, or cannellini) beans to ethereal heights of gastronomy: 1) soaking, parboiling, and cleansing (de-gassing); 2) cooking them twice; 3) cooking them slowly; 4) using a half-glazed (inside) earthenware bean pot; 5) letting them sit overnight after the second cooking and then reheating them.

Great baked beans cannot be rushed, making them a perfect, made-in-advance party food. The mystery of why earthenware does its usual magic with beans is just that, a certified mystery.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups dried cannellini beans, cooked
  • ¼ pound dried apricots
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • ½ tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • ½ bottle Pickapeppa or your favorite “steak” sauce
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 8 strips smoked bacon
  • 1 cup stout or dark ale Bean cooking liquid

Method

Soak the apricots in the rum for 2 hours, drain, saving the rum and chop them.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Put the beans in a big mixing bowl. Add the apricots and rum, the garlic, ginger, ancho chili powder, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, Pickapeppa sauce, and vinegar.

Mix well and put in the bean pot. Layer the bacon on top of the beans. Pour in the stout and enough bean-cooking liquid to cover the beans by 1 inch. Cover and put in the oven. Bake 2 hours, topping up with liquid as it disappears.

When cool enough to handle, take out the bacon and chop. Add the chopped bacon to the beans and mix. Stir salt and pepper into the beans if needed. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, add 2 cups of the cooking liquid or chicken stock, and heat the beans uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the beans are heated through.

,