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Christopher Greaves

Baked Beans

There are a million recipes for baked beans on the web. Here is another one.

This one is distilled from all the others.

It is, therefore, the simplest and easiest of them all (1).

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Most recipes stipulate navy beans. What to do if you don’t happen to have Navy beans, but would like to make baked beans anyway?

Do what I do - use a mixture of whatever you have got.

In my case 200 grams of Red Kidney Beans. I could not find my 1-cup measuring cup, so I have measured a half-cup, and did it twice. Two times a hundred is 200 g Red Kidney Beans.

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Black beans are smaller and hence pack closer. Not surprisingly a half-cup of Black Beans weighs 125 grams - more than the larger Red Kidney Beans. Twice, so 250 grams Black Beans.

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Chick Peas are smaller than Red Kidney Beans but not as dense. No surprises here. 120 grams per half-cup, 240 grams all up.

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I place the 200+250+240 or about 750 grams of beans in water to soak for four hours …

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… while I trot across the street and buy some molasses and bacon. It’s the salted pork that everyone insists I put in baked beans, and I have no idea where to find it. I figured bacon was a good substitute, and easier to find.

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I chopped the 500 grams of bacon into inch-and-a-half chunks.

I could probably used only half the bacon, but in for a penny, in for 14.54/16 of a pound, I always say!

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I make sure that the bacon is cut right through. I don’t want a daisy-chain of bacon when I ladle out the finished product. I toss the bacon into the casserole dish in which I plan to bake my beans.

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An onion. What a useless directive is that!

Try 175 grams or six ounces of onion, … or thereabouts …

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… chopped. Ready to be tossed in to the casserole dish. But see the soaked beans to the left? They are threatening to take over the apartment.

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Better I do the cooking in a larger device. Turns out that my jam Dixie is the next largest device. The bacon and onions are tossed and roughly mixed by hand. They form the base layer of the mixture.

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In a small bowl, a dessert spoon of pepper, a teaspoon of salt. Mustard, say the recipes. I couldn’t find any, so I used curry powder; it’s the same color, right?

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A cup of brown sugar. Most recipes say half a cup, but then they never talk seriously about the other measurements anyway.

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I avoid adding water whenever I can dream up a robust substitute, in this case, a can (750 grams) Italian Tomatoes, pulverized in the blender at low speed.

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I toss the beans with their remnants of soaking water into the pot and turn the heat on low to start bringing it all to the boil.

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I toss the dry spices and sugar on top. They can soak downwards.

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I add a half-cup of molasses to the pulped tomatoes.

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I have two jars of chicken stock on hand in case I need to “water down” the mixture in the large pot.

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Six hours later at a slow boil, the baked beans are ladled into preserving jars and will be steam-sterilized.

Did you notice that you don’t have to bake beans in the oven? You can just boil them.

(1) Well actually, I have a simpler one, but this one is more fun.


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Toronto, Friday, August 14, 2015 1:06 PM

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