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Monday, October 28, 2013

French Canadian Baked Beans

I have been wanting to post this recipe for a long time. I made some baked beans a little while ago at the cottage and the house smelled so amazing that everyone who came in commented on it.

I always make a big pot because I like to have them on hand for a quick weekday meal or for a big weekend breakfast with eggs and roasted potatoes.  Inspired by the French cassoulet, I will try serving them some time soon with duck confit and a small salad drizzled with a molasses vinaigrette to dress them up a bit (the beans are baked with molasses).  I think that this would be an excellent after ski meal in the winter.  The salty, crispy duck and soft, slightly sweet beans would go very well together I think.  The salad will add a little freshness and colour to the dish.

This is truly very easy with a minimum of ingredients required.  The only inconvenience is soaking the beans overnight. The soaking reduces cooking time and makes them easier to digest. If you don't have access to molasses, you can substitute with equal amounts of maple syrup or dark corn syrup (I have never tried this but it was suggested on another site).

I used a 700g (about 1.5lbs) bag of navy beans and this makes about 10 generous servings.  Once cooked they can be frozen and gently reheated before serving (you can add  water when reheating to create more sauce).

It is best to use a ceramic beanpot if you have or a cocotte type cast iron pot (like Le Creuset or Straub) to ensure even heat distribution and retention.  A pressure cooker would also work to reduce the cooking time.

You will need:  For about 10 generous servings

  • 1 bag (700g - 1.5lbs) of dried white navy beans
  • 1 small container (300ml - 1 1/4 cups) of molasses
  • 2 tbsp of dried yellow mustard or regular mustard if you do not have
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 slices of smoked bacon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water for soaking and for cooking

  1. The night before you plan to cook the beans(700g -1.5lbs), place them in a large bowl and fill with cold water (2 - 3 inches - 5cm - 7cm of water above the beans) and let soak for 10 - 12 hours;
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C);
  3. Strain the beans;
  4. Put 1/3 of the soaked beans in the bottom of the pot, sprinkle the 1/2 of the diced onion and cover with 3 slices of smoked bacon;
  5. Create another layer with second third of the soaked beans, diced onion and 3 slices of bacon;
  6. Place the final layer of beans in the pot and sprinkle with dried mustard (2 tbsp);
  7. Season with salt and pepper (about 1.5 tsps of salt and pepper to taste - you can season again at the end of the cooking process);
  8. Add molasses (300ml - 1 1/4 cup) and fill pot with water to  a level of 2 inches - 5cm above the beans, cover and cook in the middle of your oven (if the level of water is close to the edge of the pot, place a lined baking sheet under the pot to catch any sauce that spills over) ;
  9. It should take about 4 - 5 hours to cook the beans but you can check them every hour to make sure no additional water is needed. If they become dry, add more water (about 1/2 to 1 cup - 120ml to 240ml).  
  10. Cooked beans can be frozen.  Enjoy!

Smile of the day!

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