This recipe makes the best baked beans I have ever eaten...period. It comes from http://www.choosy-beggars.com/index.php/2009/09/04/smoky-bbq-baked-beans/ and I encourage you to have a look at their site to read their own intro for this, as well as to see other great recipes. I just love their writing style! We probably had old beans because they had not softened in the specified time, so we just put the partially cooked beans in the slow cooker to finish overnight. I have read that it is better to add acid ingredients after the beans have been cooking for at least one hour to prevent the skins from toughening, and I will do that next time. (making a big batch for a potluck? Use the measurements in brackets and double your fun). This can be modified to make vegetarian...see below. My son, who is diabetic, used Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, reduced the maple syrup, and omitted the molasses (but felt that it really should have had it for more depth of flavour). To compensate, he increased the chipotle, and the end result was still fantastic...or at least, we thought so...
- 1 lb dried navy beans (2 lbs. dried navy beans)
- 1 smoked pork hock, about 1 pound (same size pork hock but use all the meat)
- 2 bay leaves (3 bay leaves)
- 14 ounces crushed tomatoes (28 oz can crushed tomatoes)
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard (1/4 cup yellow mustard)
- 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses (1/4 cup molasses)
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (1/4 cup vinegar)
- 1⁄4 cup maple syrup (1/2 cup maple syrup)
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (3 tbsp wooster)
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons packed brown sugar (3 tbsp brown sugar)
- 3 garlic cloves (6 cloves garlic)
- 1 large chipotle chili pepper (2 chipotle peppers)
- 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (2 tsp adobo sauce)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder (2 tsp cumin)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon allspice (1 tsp allspice)
- 2 cups chicken stock (4 cups chicken stock)
- 1 1⁄2 cups as needed chicken stock (2-3 cups chicken stock as needed)
- kosher salt, to taste
- * If you wanted to make this vegetarian, omit the pork hock. Instead, drop 2 tbsp of butter into the bottom of your Dutch oven before the beans go in, and add 6-8 drops of liquid smoke (or 1/4 tsp if you’re making enough for a potluck) to the wet and stickies before it goes in the oven.
- Soak the beans in three times as much water for 8 hours or overnight.
- Preheat your oven to 325ºF with your racks near the bottom.
- In a fairly large Dutch oven (particularly if you’re making the potluck amount) nestle the pork hock and pour the soaked beans around it. Add the bay leaves.
- In a medium-large mixing bowl, pour the tomatoes, mustard, molasses, red wine vinegar, maple syrup and worcestershire sauce. Measure in the brown sugar, cumin and allspice.
- Finely mince (or grate) the cloves of garlic and add them to the mix. Take your chipotle out of their deliciously spicy adobo sauce and chop very, very finely. Add the chipotle and dollop in your adobo sauce. Season with salt (1-2 tsp for the regular amount, and up to 1 tbsp, depending on taste, for the potluck size).
- Give the sauce a good whisk to make sure that everything is combined, and pour it over the beans. Stir until the beans are evenly coated. The pork hock gets in the way a little bit, but just work around it. Believe me, it’s much easier than lifting the pork hock out and then trying to sandwich it back in and even things out.
- Pour 2 cups of chicken stock over top. It should look rather soupy at this point.
- Cover the Dutch oven and tuck it in to bake for at least 4 hours before checking to see the condition of your beans. They will have absorbed quite a bit of the flavorful sauce at this point, and started to thicken up.
- The beans should be very tender and soft, but not falling apart into mush. Remove the pork hock from the pot.
- Add more stock to the pot until it starts to look thin and saucy but not overly soupy. Does that make sense? Tuck the beans back in the oven to continue cooking while you let the pork hock cool until it’s easy to handle. At that point, separate the meat from the skin/fat and bones. Discard the gristle and bones before tearing the meat into relatively small chunks. Reserve the big fatty skin chunk (appetizing? No. Delicious flavor inducing? Yes) that was on the exterior of your pork hock.
- Mix about half of the chopped pork back in with the beans (or all of it if you were making the larger amount, or if you just happen to have a fondness for smoked pork…which is entirely understandable), and add more stock if they aren’t looking loose enough. Casually drape the skin/fat on top of the beans like a first date at a movie theater. Try to lay it fat side up if you can. Put the lid back on and tuck the beans back, yet again, in your oven for another 1 – 1.5 hours. The texture of the beans should be saucy but not soupy. You know, fairly thick but not goopy. Sloppy? Can I describe them as sloppily thick beans? Because that’s how I like them. It’s up to you, though. If you like a saucier bean, add more stock. If you like a thicker bean, let it cook for the last half hour uncovered. There are ways to give you what you want, the beans say so.
- Remove the fat cap from the beans and give them a good stir before serving.