Alton Brown’s Baked Beans… Sort of

Anyone who is familiar with Alton Brown is aware how particular he is as a chef. He crafts his recipes very carefully with detailed measurements, urgings to weigh ingredients, and scientific mumbo-jumbo to explain how the whole thing works.

He probably would not be happy with me altering his recipe, but fate be damned I am doing it anyways!

I have been making these baked beans for nearly a decade and they always turn out well. In recent years I have made a few changes which seem to result in baked beans which me and my wide variety of food tasters seem to *gasp!* prefer to Alton’s original recipe. Simmer down Alton lovers; all I did was remove one jalapeño and add in some vinegar and maple syrup. Did you know that maple syrup is a flavour enhancer, much like vanilla? A little goes a long way! I also omit the bean water in favour of more flavourful broth and remove the lid for the last bit of cooking time for a deep browning. Plan on closer to 8 hours than 6.

So comforting and filling, baked beans are a great winter dish served with some Cornbread and a salad.

Also for anyone wanting to make less than what seems like a mountain of beans at the end, I have halved this recipe with great results!

Baked Beans

Adapted from Alton Brown’s Once and Future Baked Beans

1 pound dried Great Northern beans
1 pound bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons of apple cider or other vinegar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt

—–
Heat oven to 250 degrees F.

Soak beans in a plastic container overnight in just enough cold water to submerge them completely.

Place a Dutch oven over medium heat and stir in the bacon, onion, and jalapenos until enough fat has rendered from the bacon to soften the onions, about 5 minutes. If desired, remove some bacon fat with a few paper towels. Stir in the tomato paste, dark brown sugar, molasses, vinegar, and syrup. Cook for a few minutes.

Drain the beans and rinse. Add the drained beans to the Dutch oven. Add the vegetable broth to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat. Add in cayenne, black pepper and salt. Give them a stir and cover with the lid. Place the Dutch oven in the oven for 6 to 8 hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove lid for last 30-45 minutes of cooking.

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