Ever wonder if there is something less strangely gelatinous and more toothsome than beans from a can? There IS! With a little patience, you can make baked beans from scratch. It isn’t fast, but it is so much better than beans from a can that you’ll wonder why you never tried it before.
The first rule of show business is to leave the audience wanting more. That’s why you only measure out 2 cups of dry navy beans. After all, it is better to be begged for an encore than to hear, “Beans AGAIN?”
They have to take a shower.
Now it’s time for a swim. 1 part beans, 3 parts water. One dutch oven.
Put a lid on the dutch oven and bring the beans to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes. Take them off the heat and leave the lid on – they need to stew for an hour in the hot liquid.
One hour later, when you take the lid off, HOLD THY NOSE. It reeks like rotten cabbages. Strangely, it is supposed to. Drain the water. Time for another shower.
Let them drip-dry in the sink for now.
In a large slow-cooker, swirl a small amount of olive oil around the bottom so nothing sticks.
Now it is time to add flavour. Put a healthy dose of ground black pepper in the pot, followed by a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, a Tbsp of Dijon mustard, a tsp of white vinegar and 3/4 cup of root beer syrup. If you want to do old school, do 1 cup of ketchup and 1/2 cup of molasses instead of the tomatoes and syrup (molasses is really only there for sugar and colour). I dare you to try the root beer syrup though – it’s zingy!
Now the beans get thrown in.
The last part is the bacon and onions.
Dice the onions. Slice the bacon into lardons. It is easier to slice frozen bacon – that’s how my whole system came about. That, and it’s harder to fry it all on a whim from frozen. 🙂
Put a small amount of water in a frying pan – enough to cover the bottom. Lay the frozen lardons on their sides. The water will evaporate quickly but it also makes the bacon lie flat in the pan so that it cooks evenly, browning each piece entirely. Try it. You’ll see.
In no time at all, you get this:
Throw the bacon and onion into the slow cooker and mix everything together well.
With the lid on, set the slow cooker on high for 6 hours. The house smelled so good when this was cooking! I kept wanting to lift the lid and try it! Resist the urge – good things come to those who wait.
Here’s the end product:
They aren’t covered in gooey starch and there are chunks of bacon and tomato dispersed everywhere amongst tender beans. Just looking at them makes me hungry for more.