I was never a big fan of baked beans growing up. I always considered them the mushy accompaniment to hotdogs and they were probably from a can. That all changed when I was visiting my grandmother in Vermont as an adult and tried her husband's homemade baked bean (in a crock pot). They were so flavorful and delicious, I asked for the recipe. His started off with a big hunk of salt pork and he cooked the hotdogs (on a string!) in the beans.
For my vegetarian version I use a combination of his family recipe and this one. I don't like my beans to be too sweet and I don't care for molasses so I leave that out and go easy on the brown sugar.
I start my beans the night before by soaking them in cold water overnight. I like to use a mix of beans for some taste variation. For this batch I used a half a pound of dried pinto beans and a half a pound of dried Great Northern beans. This is how the drained beans look after a night of soaking.
In the morning, drain and rinse off the soaking liquid and add the other ingredients to the beans.
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie's)
1 TBS paprika
2-3 TBS spicy brown mustard (I added some additional dried mustard too to give it a little more zing)
dash or two of liquid smoke
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
2-3 TBS tomato paste
salt & pepper to taste
2 1/2 cups of fresh water
Cook on low for 8+ hours or high for 4 hours, the longer the better if you ask me.
Check for taste before serving and adjust seasonings if necessary.
The beans cook down and take on this beautiful color (and flavor).
They make the house smell delicious while they are cooking too.
That crock pot is a beautiful thing!
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