Sweet & Smoky Baked Beans

Having a French Canadian husband (who also happens to be a world traveler) influences my creative ventures in the kitchen in wonderful ways 🙂. I grew up in a very meat-and-potatoes kind of household where the likes of poutine, tourtiere and sugar pie where unheard of; instead, mac & cheese, stir fries and glazed ham were the typical Canadiana dishes I became accustomed to. On the heels of developing our Vegan Poutine (a surprising but delicious creation) I decided I would explore “veganizing” another popular French Canadian dish: baked beans.

Fèves au lard –traditional French Canadian baked beans—is typically baked in a ceramic or cast-iron pot with salted pork/bacon or lard and sweetened with maple sugar. Since I never had baked beans growing up (except maybe once or twice out of a can, lol) I poked Janik brain for suggestions on how his Dad (a very talented cook I might add!) prepared his baked beans for the family. Janik’s shoulder shrug (which I half-expected, lol) prompted me to do a few Pinterest and Google searches and in doing so I picked up on two ‘pillars’ to making the perfect baked beans. First, soaking your dried beans overnight prior to cooking is a MUST. Second, letting your beans cook slowly (very slowly) in the prepared sauce is a definite MUST (think 6-10 hours in a slow cooker). Well, some rules are made to be broken….at least in our test kitchen 😀.

Since I decided to make this dish later in the day I used the “cheat” method rather than soak my beans overnight. The method: bring your dried beans to a boil and let them boil for 1 minute. Let the beans sit (room temperature) for 1 hour in the cooking liquid. Using this handy method scales back the cooking time required, but in this case it was more about having a tender bean once cooked.  I found 45-50 minutes was ideal for simmering the beans…they reached a tender (not soft) texture. In terms of the recommended slow cooking method for this dish I counted on my Thermomix (aka miracle kitchen appliance) to achieve results at a fraction of the time required using a conventional slow cooker. Thanks to its chopping, sautéing, mixing, blending and precision temperature functions I was able to prepare this Sweet & Smokey Baked Beans dish in my Thermomix — one bowl only — and in under 2 hours.

Considering that I turned the culinary “rules” for making baked beans upside down the results were anything but WOW. The sauce is undeniably sweet owing to the blend of maple syrup, ketchup and brown sugar (just how I like it) while the vegan Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke balances the sweetness and gives the dish an earthy, woody flavour. The beans themselves were tender but not soft. If you have the time I would actually recommend cooking the beans for another half hour (total of 2 hours cooking time) to soften them up; that being said at 1.5 hours I was still thrilled with the results. We spooned these baked beans over slices of fresh baguette (delish!) but equally enjoyed the baked beans on their own. As the French say “J’adore” (I’m in love) ☺️.

If you’re looking for other sweet and smoky-inspired dishes, why not try our Sweet & Savoury Tofu with Cinnamon-Roasted Sweet Potato & Lentil Mash or our Vegetable Stir Fry with Sweet & Sour Sauce.

Enjoy~

Preparation

Cook 2 cups dry Great Northern Beans or mix of Great Northern, Navy Beans, Black Beans and/or White Pea Bean as directed(See Recipe Notes below)

Ingredients

  • 4-6 cups cooked beans (I used a mix of Great Northern Beans and Black Beans) (635-955g)
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled (5g)
  • 1 medium onion, halved (40g)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup (215g)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup (145g)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar (10g)
  • 2 tsp dry mustard (<5g)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar, packed (20g)
  • 1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (15g)
  • Reserved bean liquid (2 cups)
  • 1/4 tsp liquid smoke (<5g)

Instructions

  • 1/Drain the cooked beans making sure to reserve the bean liquid; set both the beans and bean liquid aside.
  • 2/Add the garlic and onion to your Thermomix mixing bowl. Chop 5 sec/Speed 7. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl to collect the minced garlic-onion mixture at the base of the bowl. Important: Add the butterfly whisk attachment to the Thermomix mixing blade before starting Step 3.
  • 3/Add maple syrup, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, dry mustard, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and 1/4 cup reserved bean liquid to the TM bowl. Whisk 15 sec/Speed 3.5. Important: Remove the butterfly whisk attachment from the Thermomix mixing blade before starting Step 4.
  • 4/Add the cooked beans to the TM bowl. Cook 30 min/80C/Speed 1 (Reverse blade)
  • 5/Add additional 1/4 cup reserved bean liquid to the TM bowl. Cook 30 min/80C/Speed 1 (Reverse blade)
  • 6/Add additional 1/4 cup reserved bean liquid to the TM bowl. Cook 30 min/80C/Speed 1 (Reverse blade) Taste for consistency and seasoning; adjust if needed (see Recipe Notes) Important: See Recipe Notes below

Recipe Notes

*As a general guideline, when cooking beans 1 cup dry beans will yield 3 cups cooked beans

*If you prefer your baked beans saucy add additional reserved bean liquid during cooking. If, at the end of cooking time, the beans are not as dry as you like, continue to cook in the Thermomix beyond the 1.5 hrs cooking time (e.g. 30 min/80C/Speed 1 (Reverse blade) using simmering basket (vs measuring cup) on top of lid)

Note: This recipe was made using a Thermomix appliance, however it can easily be adapted using similar food prep tools (e.g. mutli-function processor, immersion blender etc).

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