Hello, friends. Are you still there? I hope so! My absence has not been because I have not been cooking–quite the opposite actually! I spent a week cooking with my mom in preparation for our annual Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fish. Except, we do way more than seven! Baked stuffed lobsters, bacala, shrimp mousse, and baked scallops, just to name a few. I really should have planned ahead and done an entire Christmas Eve post for you! It’s just that sometimes whipping out the camera interferes with the mood, you know? I started taking photos on the first day of cooking but then doing so just seemed to interfere with the fun we were having!
Immediately after the start of the new year it was my husband’s birthday. I decided to prepare a laid-back-comfort-food-meal. It turned out to take a lot more time than I expected, though, I must say, in this case the time and labor really seemed to be worth it. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal! I made hot roast beef sandwiches with gravy (sometimes called Beef on Weck in Buffalo, NY), jalepeno cheddar corn bread, sunflower seed salad and these baked beans from Barefoot Contessa*, one of my most favorite ladies in the world. As if that wasn’t enough comfort food I made a special request for hotdog mac ‘n’ cheese from my mom. She hesitated, “Mac ‘n’ cheese with hotdogs? Really?” but after my serious begging and insistence that no one would turn it down she obliged. And everyone was quite thankful. DELICIOUS! …and the next day everyone made a mad dash for the gym. 🙂
These baked beans were very well-received. They are sweet, yet don’t let that fool you–they have a serious kick. You will definitely need to plan ahead to make these. The beans should soak in cold water over night and then they will need to bake for 6-8 hours. I made the number one amateur cooking mistake and I didn’t read the recipe through. I ended up putting them in the oven at 10am and taking them out the very moment I served dinner. Very close call! These are definitely a great side for a barbeque or tailgating party, but also they were really good on top of a baked potato for a super filling week night main course meal.
I doubled the below recipe and you may want to do the same if you are cooking for a crowd.
Maple Baked Beans–Barefoot Contessa Style:
- 1 pound small red beans
- 1 large yellow onion, cut in eighths
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 whole black peppercorns
- 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Chinese chili paste
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (you can sub 1/2 tablespoon dry)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 5 ounces thick cut smoked bacon, cubed
Put the dry beans in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day drain and rinse the beans then drain again.
Place the beans in a large pot (I love using my Le Creuset) and add about 2 quarts of water, the onion segments, a bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer for about 50 minutes, or until tender. Drain the beans reserving the draining liquid.
Preheat the oven to 225 F.
In a small saucepan whisk together maple syrup, brown sugar, ketchup, chili paste, ginger, salt and 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid that you drained from the beans. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat for 6 minutes.
Add half of the bacon cubes to the beans and stir. Cover the top of the beans with the remaining bacon cubes. Pour the maple syrup sauce over the beans. Place the lid on top and bake for 6-8 hours. Check occasionally and if the beans appear dry add some of the reserved cooking liquid. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes of cooking in order to thicken the sauce. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Serve warm.
Recipe adapted from this recipe by Barefoot Contessa/Ina Garten. Also found in Barefoot Contessa at Home published by Clarkson Potter.