Long, lazy Sundays are my favorite time to make something that takes all day to cook. Puttering around the house while something bubbles away in the oven is so relaxing. Although the purest form of torture is once it starts to smell good and make you hungry and you realize you can’t eat it for another couple of hours, but that’s what snacks are for anyhow.
Apart from a wonderful stew or a fall-apart pot roast the best slow cooked meal I can think of is baked beans. I’ve wanted to tackle a lighter version of baked beans for a long time since they’re just packed with sugar, but I was having hard time coming up with lighter version. I think this recipe comes pretty close to what you’d expect from traditional baked beans, it’s obviously not as sweet, but that caramel/sugar depth is still there and I added liquid smoke to give it that amazing smoke-house bbq flavour. I also pre-cooked the bacon and drained off the fat before adding it to the beans. If you have left over pulled pork (or had the time and energy to make your own) it would be a great addition instead of bacon, or even in addition to.
I used the “quick-soak” method for the beans but if you’re organized you can of course soak the beans in water overnight and skip the first boil.
Smokey Baked Beans
2 cups or 1 lb. dry white (navy) beans
8 cups water
6 rashers thick cut bacon cut into small pieces
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes no salt added
1/4 cup packed brown sugar, plus 1 tbsp
3/4 tsp dried mustard
1 tbsp cider vinegar
10 – 12 drops liquid smoke
1/4 tsp salt, divided
Rinse and pick over the beans to remove any shrivelled or discoloured ones. Bring the beans and water to a boil in a large pot. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
Add more water if needed to keep the beans covered and bring the beans back to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Drain and reserve the bean cooking liquid.
While the beans are simmering cook the bacon until almost crisp. Drain on a paper towel, reserving 1 tbsp of bacon fat. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 300.
Add half the beans to a large dutch oven or covered casserole dish, top with half the bacon, tomatoes and onions. Repeat with the rest. In a medium bowl mix 1 cup of the reserved liquid with 1/4 cup sugar, bacon fat, dried mustard, cider vinegar, 1/8 tsp salt, pepper and liquid smoke. Pour over the beans. Add enough of the remaining reserved bean liquid to almost cover the beans. If you don’t have enough bean water you can use plain water or stock.
Cover and cook for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. After 2 1/2 hours remove the lid, stir and return to the oven uncovered for the remaining cooking time.
Remove from oven stir and taste. Add the remaining 1 tbsp of sugar and 1/8 tsp of salt if needed.
Per Serving: 386 calories, 9g fat, 59g carbs, 18g protein, 340mg sodium, 18g fiber.