It's all about a warm pot of baked beans today, but these aren't the usual New England style baked beans. These have a bit of a spicy twist. Perfect with a pan of cheesy jalapeño cornbread. This dinner took the chill out of our first ice and sleet storm of the season.
While the thermometer hovered all day at about the 28 degree mark, the kitchen kept warm with the oven going and the woodstove crackling away. Here's how I made the baked beans ...
2 c. dried navy beans
1/2 large sweet Vidalia onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 small plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/3 c. molasses
3 sweet Italian sausages, casings removed, broken up and browned in a skillet
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
kosher salt and black pepper
2 1/2 c. boiling water
1 generous tbsp. tomato paste, stirred into boiling water measure
Making the Dish:
- Wash and drain the beans. Place them in a deep pan and cover with cold water for three to four hours.
- After the soaking time, put about 1 tsp, baking soda in the water with the beans and bring the pan to a slow boil. Reduce the heat and bubble until the beans’ skins split when you remove some on a spoon and blow on them.
- Drain the beans and dump them into a 3 qt. bean pot.
- Brown the sausages in a frypan, breaking them into bite-sized pieces. I remove the casings and crumble them into the hot pan to brown them. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage bits and put them into the bean pot.
- Add the chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes, molasses, and spices. Toss to combine everything.
- Combine the boiling water and tomato paste and stir to break down the paste. Pour over top the beans and sausage. The fluid should just barely cover the beans. If it doesn’t add a bit more water.
- Cover and place in a slow oven (275 degrees F). Let the beans cook slowly for two and a half to three hours or so.
- Check the beans every once in a while to make sure the fluid stays toward the top of the layer of beans. Add a bit more hot water if it gets too dry up top.
- After two and half hours, take a taste of the beans. They should still have just a bit of bite to them. If they’re too hard, continue cooking, but be wary ! No mushy beans allowed !
- Serve with cornbread and coleslaw or a green salad.