Baked beans are an American and a British icon. They are small white haricot or “navy” beans baked, stewed, or steamed in a sauce. They are popular because of their sweet, beany, tangy, bacony, and tomatoey flavors. There are many flavors there. The UK version is less sweet than the US version and is famous for breakfast served over toast. Heinz is the primary name associated with canned baked beans in the UK, while many brands compete in the US.
Here in the South US, the dish is often customized at home with a base of canned baked beans (or pork and beans), to which more bacon, molasses, brown sugar, mustard, ketchup, or BBQ sauce is added.
- 2 cups navy beans
- ½ pound slab bacon, cut into cubes
- One medium onion, peeled and chopped
- ⅓ cup molasses
- Two teaspoons dry mustard
- One teaspoon ground black pepper
Step 1: Bean Preparation
Soak the navy beans in a large water bowl for at least 6 hours. Once soaked, drain the water and transfer the beans to a large oven-safe pot with a sturdy bottom and a tight lid. Add one teaspoon of salt and the required water to cover the beans. Heat the pot until it boils, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir in between and cook until the beans are tender but firm. Usually, it takes around 30-40 minutes. Once cooked, you can drain the water and keep the beans cool.
Step 2: Building a Flavor
Preheat your oven to 250 Fahrenheit. Add the cubed bacon to the pot, set the flame to medium-high, and cook until brown. Then, add chopped onion to the bacon and layer the cooked beans over the onion. Now, pour a mixture of molasses, dry mustard, and black pepper over the beans in the pot. To ensure the beans are covered during baking, carefully pour enough boiling water into the pot and place it to the preheated oven.
Step 3: Slow baking
For perfection, Keep the beans in the oven for 4 to 5 hours. During this time, check every 30 minutes and add enough boiled water to make sure the beans are covered. After the initial baking time, remove the pot from the oven and uncover the pot, stir the beans well, and season with salt according to taste. With the lid off, return the pot to the oven and continue cooking without adding additional water. This allows the sauce to become thick and develop a deep crust on top. Typically, this final stage takes about 45 minutes.
Step 4: Ready to Serve
Once the top is delightfully crusty and the sauce becomes thickened, remove the pot from the oven. Your baked beans are now ready to serve
Extra Tip: Line the bean pot with about four slices of salt pork. Use most of a bottle of ketcup and at least 1/2 cup of molasses and mix into the soaked beans. Submerge a halved onion into the beans. Bake at low heat most of the day or cook in a slow cooker. Stir up the salt pork once the beans begin to soften and turn brown. You won't need any extra salt, but some fresh ground pepper is always nice.