Baked beans are one of my all-time favorite foods. Observant readers might point out that I say that about almost every food I talk about, but I guess that kind of bias is one of the natural consequences of letting someone run their own food blog. You try to find someone who writes about food they don’t like every day.
Anyway, baked beans are awesome, and I’ve liked them forever. I’ve enjoyed beer for significantly less than forever, but it’s high on my list as well. The combination of beer-baked beans is wonderful. Rachel and I really wanted to have them at our wedding, so we took time out of a few different weekends to create a “bean testing lab” where we tried to concoct an awesome baked beans recipe. We tried lots of different kinds of beans, messed around with different traditional and out-of-the-box flavors, and arrived triumphant at the recipe you have in front of you.
Authentic baked beans are actually baked (surprise!), often starting in their dry state and slowly growing soft and absorbing flavor on low heat for many hours. It’s pretty delicious, although I’d really like to try some that were made by an expert bean chef from Boston or Georgia or something if I ever get the chance. The reason I’ve opted for a “simmered beans” version in this recipe is just because it’s simpler to make and tastes just as great. If you want, you can split the difference: start with cooked beans and bake them in the liquid in your favorite dutch oven for a few hours at 300° or so.
The beer adds a lot of flavor; I find dark beers are usually more pronounced as an ingredient, so I’d encourage using something in the direction of a porter. You can add more or less depending on how much of that beer flavor you want coming through.
This was a big hit at the wedding, by the way. We made a ton of it and served it with pulled pork and many other wonderful foods. Also we got married, which was even better.
Oh yeah– this recipe is also vegetarian, so all you people sick of bacon in every baked beans recipe can rejoice and enjoy the dish with us.
Beer-Baked Beans Recipe
1 pound (about 2 cups) dry navy beans, cooked (about 4-5 cups after cooking)
2-3 regular cans navy beans (any other white bean will work as well)
1 onion, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup molasses (depending how far you live from Boston)
1/2 c. ketchup
2 tsp mustard
3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tb unsalted butter
1 cup (8 0z) dark beer (feel free to use the whole 12 oz. bottle)
Most of this recipe is just assembling and mixing the ingredients. Actually that’s pretty much it.
In a large pot or slow cooker, mix the beans, onion, and all the other stuff. Mix well and add water to submerge the beans slightly.
Cover the pot and simmer gently for at least 30 minutes– but a few hours would be much better. The slow cooker would be really handy in this case.
Before serving, feel free to uncover the pot for a little if the mixture seems too thin. Serve with your favorite barbecue food, or whenever you want I guess.
Hope you like our wedding beans! Let me know if you come up with any interesting variations. I’ve enjoyed adding a little chipotle paste on occasion, for example.
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Hasta la vista, foodies!