Saturday, June 18, 2011

Baked Beans

I have wanted to make baked beans from scratch for a while now. I finally got around to it last week. I more or less followed Alton Brown's Once and Future Bean Recipe. He is one of my favorites on the Food Network and has yet to steer me wrong with any of his recipes that I have tried.

Darren has been raving about these beans all week, and I remembered to take a lot of pictures, so I'm putting them up here. I started with a bag of dried navy beans. I soaked them in a plastic container with enough water to cover them by about an inch. These ended up soaking for about 32 hours, but they need a good 24 hours to soak. I advise checking them once or twice to make sure there is enough water.
After the beans have soaked overnight, drain the beans and reserve the cooking liquid.
For these beans, I used about 1/4 lb. of thick cut pepper bacon, 1/2 lb. of smoked sausage, and some of the leftover pulled pork, which I added much later. Chop the bacon (and other meats, if using).

Begin cooking the meats in a skillet over medium heat to render the fat.
While the meats are cooking, chop the onion and jalapenos. Remove the membrane and seeds from the jalapenos if you like things milder. I left it all in. I advise wearing gloves to chop jalapenos. I once got capsaicin in my eye, and it was not fun at all. I chopped these on the butcher paper from the bacon so I wouldn't have to wash a cutting board.

Once the fat is rendered from the pork, add the onion and jalapenos to the skillet.

Stir this occasionally, and cook it for about 5 minutes, until the bacon is done and the onion is translucent. While these things are cooking, add about 1 c. of the soak water to the crockpot. Also add some brown sugar, molasses, and tomato paste.

Stir this up and then add the salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Then stir the spices around and add the beans.

Stir the beans around, add enough soaking liquid to cover the beans by about an inch, and stir them around again.

The onion should be done by about this time, so layer the meat-onion-jalapeno mixture on top of the beans.

Cook this on high for an hour or two, and then stir in the meat, lower the heat to low, and cook 4-6 hours until the beans are tender. Check them once or twice, and add some liquid, if needed. I ended up adding a small can of chicken broth part way through cooking. I also added some of the leftover pulled pork a couple of hours before the beans were done.

I served these beans with some corn muffins, and Darren went crazy for them.

I will definitely be making these again. They were sweet, spicy, and DELICIOUS! They are probably a bit spicy for kids, so if you're cooking for the young'uns, I would definitely advise removing the seeds and membrane from the peppers, and I would probably even suggest using only one pepper (or possibly replacing the jalapeno with bell pepper or Anaheim pepper).

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