Monday, June 20, 2011

Best Baked Beans EVER

This last weekend was father's day and since my girls are off living life large in the big city and weren't home to slave in the kitchen to prepare my father's day feast, I had to do it myself.  Rotten kids, how DARE they have a life?

I'm kidding of course, I love my girls and am happy they are out discovering the world, and I love it when I get to go in the kitchen and just cook for ME (well, and for Doug, and our friends Chris and Al who came over to play cards, but I cooked what I wanted, so in MY mind it was for ME).  I decided I would make one of my all time favorite things in the world, baked beans.

You other dads can have your steaks and chicken barbecue.  I want baked beans.  And not just any baked beans, I want these slow-cooked luxurious baked beans.  They take about 16 hours from start to finish, but the end result is, in my opinion, a culinary epiphany.

Originally, this recipe comes from Food Network's Alton Brown (Good Eats).  I love Alton Brown.  He reminds me of 1980's new wave darling Thomas Dolby (She Blinded Me With Science).

Everything I have ever made from Alton Brown's show has been exceptional, but these beans are just amazing.  To top it off, though this dish takes 16 hours, you only spend about 15 minutes actually working in the kitchen, the dish just cooks by itself, and doesn't need you to interfere with its culinary alchemy.

I present to you here, my version of Alton Brown's baked beans, the recipe is nearly identical, but I have omitted some of the "hot" spices like cayenne pepper.  These beans are great with hot dogs or burgers, or just by themselves with a little steamed rice.   Happy Father's Day to ME!

Best Baked Beans Ever
serves 8

1lb dried beans (I like roman beans, but Alton uses navy beans or northern beans)
6 cups boiling water

1 lb bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp salt
3 cups vegetable stock (or chicken or ham stock)

Place dried beans in a large bowl and cover with 6 cups boiling water.  Allow beans to soak for at least an hour, or overnight (8 hours).

Preheat oven to 250F.  Drain beans, reserving one cup soaking liquid.

In a large cast iron pot with a heavy lid, cook bacon, onion, jalapeno over medium high heat until bacon is partially rendered and onions begin to get soft (about 10 minutes).  Add beans, tomato paste, brown sugar, molasses, salt and stock and reserved soaking liquid, stir until mixed..  Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover with lid and place in a 250F degree oven.  Bake 6 hours without disturbing.  Remove lid and bake 2 additional hours without disturbing.  Serve hot.

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