Monday, February 4, 2008

Barbecued Baked Beans

While rummaging through my pantry, I came across a package of great northern beans and decided to cook them. I'd had good luck using a barbecued bean recipe from Cook's Illustrated, so I figured I'd try it again. Beans are difficult on a low sodium diet. They can taste pretty flat without the salt or smoked meat products -- ham, bacon, ham hocks, etc. But this recipe tasted pretty good because it was highly flavored.

My only complaint with the recipe was that the salt & acidic ingredients (BBQ sauce, brown sugar, mustard, & molasses) were added at the beginning. Most recipes caution against doing this because it will make the beans hard & they won't get tender. I kept those ingredients out until the beans had sufficiently softened.

Anyhow, here's the recipe with my notes.

Barbecued Baked Beans 

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated 2/2005
Serves 6 to 8
(Printable Recipe)
4 slices bacon
, chopped fine (I either just use 2 slices low sodium bacon or omit altogether)
1 onion
, minced
4 cloves garlic
, minced
1 pound dried small white beans
, rinsed and picked over (See Notes)
8 cups water
1 cup strong coffee
, black
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
(I used 1/2 cup Heinz No Salt Added Ketchup & 1 tsp. The Spice House Salt Free Spicy West Indies Barbecue Seasoning)
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
4-1/2 teaspoons brown mustard
, prepared (I used a salt free mustard)
1 tablespoon mild molasses
Hot pepper sauce
(such as Tabasco)
Ground black pepper

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Cook the bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the beans, water , coffee, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, mustard, molasses, & 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake, stirring every hour, until the beans are tender, about 4 hours. (I used slow cooker and cooked beans first without ketchup, mustard & molasses)

3. Remove the lid and continue to bake, uncovered, until the liquid has thickened to a syrupy consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Notes : I soaked the beans overnight & rinsed. I cooked them in water for 45 minutes at a very low simmer with 1 bay leaf, 4 small cloves garlic cut in chunks, and a tea ball filled with whole peppercorns, & allspice. I drained them, reserving the cooking water. I sautéed the onion, garlic, & 1/2 a jalapeño pepper in olive oil. I did not use bacon this time. I added the beans & used Pacific Low Sodium Chicken Broth to cover, along with the coffee, and brown sugar. I dumped this all in the slow cooker. I added the molasses, prepared mustard & barbecue sauce (ketchup & spice blend) AFTER the beans became tender. I added 1 tsp. of liquid smoke near the end. I only added ladles of reserved bean cooking liquid if the beans seemed too dry.

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