These are the beans you’d bring to a potluck. They’re the kind you’d let cook slowly, hands-off, on a lazy Saturday or Sunday. They’re the beans you’d spoon over hot dogs and serve with coleslaw and cornbread to a soundtrack of buzzing laughter and chaotic summer squeals, and they’re the beans you’d eat with a spoon, humbly, in your underwear; a meditation on another day of relative peace and light in this life.
Pintos, cannellinis, soldiers, or Great Northern beans–take your pick. Just soak them overnight, cook them till their skins crack when you blow on a spoonful, then season and bake slow and low till their broth becomes luscious and saucy. Sweeten with maple, as I’ve done this time, or use honey or brown sugar. It’s all good.
- 2 cups dried beans (pinto, soldier, cannellini, Great Northern)
- 1 medium onion, diced (Vidalia, yellow, or white)
- ¼ cup refined coconut oil or other fat
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup maple syrup, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground yellow mustard
- 1 tsp salt, or to taste (hickory or applewood smoked salt is great, if you have it)
- ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
- Soak the beans: check the beans for any stones or debris, then rinse them. Place the dried beans in a large bowl with plenty of fresh water, cover with a towel, and let soak for 8 hours or overnight.
- Cook the beans: before heating the oven, pour the beans along with about six cups of water in a baking vessel. Cover with lid; place in the oven, set a timer for 1 hour, and turn on oven to 350F. After 1 hour, check for doneness by blowing on a spoonful of the beans. They're done when the skins easily crack under your breath. Mine often need up to 30 minutes more before they're tender.
- Season the beans: without draining the cooked beans, add the remaining ingredients to the pot and stir (you may want to combine them in a bowl before adding to the bean pot--sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't).
- Bake the beans: reduce oven temp to 275F (see notes). Place the covered pot of beans back in the oven; bake for 6-8 hours or until the broth thickens and becomes saucy. Taste and adjust seasonings--add a touch more mustard, ketchup, maple--as desired.
Refined coconut gives these beans a silky, lush texture without contributing much flavor (a good thing in this case, unless you're going for coconut baked beans, which I wouldn't be too mad about, either). If you don't have or can't find refined coconut oil, use bacon fat or lard, pumpkin seed butter as Janet does, or skip it altogether.
Adjust the amount of mustard and maple to your liking, and feel free to switch up the sweetener--use honey in place of maple, or a combination of brown sugar + maple or honey. I've made these beans so many times, each batch a little different. The recipe is versatile and forgiving, so have at it.
If you notice your beans drying out, stir a little additional hot water into the broth to sauce things up. Adjust your oven temp if necessary. If I know I want these beans to be ready 8+ hours later, I'll lower the temp of the second bake to 200-235F. And if you're in a (relative) rush for slow-cooked beans, crank the second bake up to 300F--the sauce will probably only need 4 hours to thicken up there.
To make in a slow cooker, you can follow the same basic steps. Here's a rundown:
Soak the beans as usual, then to cook them, add the beans + the appropriate amount of water to the crockpot and set it on high. Check for tenderness after 1-1.5 hours or so.
After the beans are tender, stir in the rest of the ingredients, set the heat to low and cook for 6-8 hours, stirring once or twice if you're around.
Recipe adapted from The Taste Space.
These sweet, simple, maple baked beans grant me words to share here, and still I can’t muster many more except this: your kindness, thoughtfulness, understanding, acceptance, and love are the greatest gifts you can give. Live, celebrate, laugh, share, and eat food that makes you so happy that every inch of your body feels the love. Shine on.