Yield
Serves 6 to 8; doubles easily
Time
10 minutes plus 2 hours soaking time prep, 1-1/4 stovetop plus 1-1/2 hours oven cooking, Approximately 5 hours total

This is Lynne’s favorite baked bean recipe. They’re unlike any baked beans we know. Sticky, sweet-tart and smoky, the beans are nearly candied as they bake with bacon, brown sugar, garlic and vinegar. A spoonful served alongside a Farmers’ Market Salad makes the perfect summer lunch.

You could do this recipe a couple of days ahead, refrigerate the beans and reheat them in a 350ºF oven for about 40 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried organic navy or Great Northern beans, covered with boiling water and soaked for 2 hours
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 medium to large onions, chopped
  • 1 pound good-quality sliced bacon, chopped
  • 1 1-pound box dark brown sugar 1/2 cup cider vinegar, or more as needed
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup spicy, dark brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Caramelized Baked Beans
Caramelized Baked Beans
(Photo: Jen Russell)

Directions

1. Drain the beans, turn them into a heavy 6-quart pot that can go into the oven, and add water to cover them by 2 inches. Stir in the allspice, 2 of the garlic cloves, and 1 of the chopped onions. Simmer, partially covered, 45 minutes to an hour, or until they are tender but not falling apart. Drain the beans, keeping their liquid. Clean the pot.

2. Set the pot over medium heat and add the bacon. Slowly cook until it has given off most of its fat, but the bacon is not crisp. Spoon off all but about 4 to 5 tablespoons of the fat. Stir in the rest of the onions and sauté them until soft. Add the remaining garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Stir in the brown sugar, vinegar, mustard, Tabasco, a good amount of black pepper, and the beans. Add about 2 cups of the reserved bean liquid, or enough to make a slightly soupy mixture. Bring to a simmer and taste for sweet-tart balance and salt.

3. Bake, covered, in a 325°F oven for 2 hours. Uncover and bake another 1 hour, or until the beans are thick and look almost glazed. As the beans bake, taste them for more vinegar and other seasonings. Serve hot. They reheat beautifully.

From A Summertime Grilling Guide by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift. Copyright © 2012 by American Public Media.