Baked beans

October 17, 2007

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Serves 8

Roasting tomatoes with spices concentrates their flavors and produces a well-seasoned pot of beans.

1 pound dried navy or small white beans, picked over
6 ounces good-quality bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1/3 cup dark rum
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Spanish smoked sweet paprika
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

1. In a large pot, combine the beans with enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer the beans, uncovered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until they are tender. Drain them into a colander.

2. Set the oven at 350 degrees. In a 6-quart Dutch oven or other large flameproof casserole, cook the bacon over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes or until it is golden.

3. Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes or until soft but not browned. Pour in the rum and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, breaking them up with the edge of a kitchen spoon.

4. Stir in the chili powder, oregano, paprika, thyme, cinnamon, brown sugar, molasses, and salt. Transfer the pot to the oven, and cook uncovered, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 hour.

5. Stir the beans into the tomato mixture. Cover the pot and return it to the oven. Bake for 1 hour. Test for seasoning, adding more salt, if you like. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little water. The beans can be made up to 2 days ahead. Reheat and serve warm. Adapted from Brian Wasik