September 2, 2010
A relic from my childhood, a simple piece of brown toast piled high with Heinz baked beans conjures up the same wistful nostalgia as eggs mashed up in a cup. This was one of my mom’s go-to meals when dinner was five-minutes-to-spare-between-figure-skating-and-hockey-practices and an integral part of convalescence lest one of us fall ill with a stomach bug.
Jeff and I took a notion for beans on toast a couple of weeks ago, both our eyes meeting a can of Heinz baked beans on the grocery store shelf at the very same time. “Mmmm, beans on toast,” we said almost simultaneously. “That would make a perfect lunch.”
I knew we could do better than Heinz. Later that weekend when I was flipping through my cookbook collection to find the perfect crisp recipe to use up the last of our peaches, I also found this recipe for maple baked beans in The Best of Chef at Home.
Seeing as it was starting to feel like fall was just around the corner, I planned to spend Sunday bakin’ our beans. It turned out to be thirty degrees that day, so I cranked the AC and made them anyway. It was well worth the effort. The beans are soft and tender, with a gorgeous maple flavor. I used thick-cut black forest ham from the St. Lawrence market, the smokiness rounding out the sweetness. But the best part? The little kick of ginger.
That afternoon I ate three slices of multigrain toast with butter and baked beans, even though I was feeling fine and felt like I had all the time in the world. I foresee these beans coming in to regular rotation this winter — with a recipe this good and this easy, who needs beans in a can?
2 cups dried navy or white beans, soaked in cold water overnight
2 cups of water
1 cup of maple syrup
6 slices of thick-cut bacon, fried and diced
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons grainy mustard (I used Kozlik’s Triple Crunch)
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vinegar
1. Preheat your oven to 300F.
2. Strain and rinse the beans. Toss them into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender (about 45 minutes).
3. Drain the beans and place them in an ovenproof baking dish with a lid. Add maple syrup, bacon, onions, ginger, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper.
4. Cover and bake until the beans have absorbed most of the liquid and are tender, about 1 hour or so.
5. Stir in the vinegar just before serving.
Chef Michael says this recipe serves four to six, but we got eight – count ‘em eight – lunches out of this recipe.