When I was a kid, my parents used to jazz up a can of baked beans by adding chopped onions, ketchup and Aunt Jemima’s syrup. This recipe, adapted from one by Ina Garten, is a delicious take on my mom’s baked beans. For best results, soak the beans overnight. Using a quick soak method (where the beans sit in hot water for an hour before cooking) can cause the skins to split open. The onions are my favorite part of the dish – they will melt in your mouth. Time wise, this is a very forgiving recipe as the beans can stay in the oven for a long time without over cooking. You can start them in the morning and pretty much forget about the dish until serving time. Leftovers freeze well.
Maple Baked Beans
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa's Maple Baked Beans
- 1 pound dried red kidney beans
- 2 onions, cut through the root end into eighths
- 8 peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 quarts water
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (not Aunt Jemima’s)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons Chinese chili paste
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger. Grating rather than chopping ginger will give you a more pronounced ginger flavor. I use a micro plane to grate it.
- 1 teaspoon salt (kosher or sea salt)
Place beans in a large pot. Cover with one inch of water; cover pot and let sit overnight at room temperature.
Drain beans. Add back to pot. Cover with 2 quarts of fresh water. Add onions, peppercorns and bay leaves, bring beans to a simmer and cook for about one hour until tender. Use a measuring cup to remove 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid. Drain beans/onions/spices. Add to a large covered, casserole dish.
To make the sauce, add all ingredients and the reserved cooking liquid, to the pot and bring to a simmer. Stir until brown sugar dissolves. Pour over beans in dish, then cover casserole. The recipe may be prepared to this point one day in advance. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
Preheat oven to 225. Cook beans (covered) for 6-8 hours. Remove top during last hour of cooking to allow sauce to thicken. Remove bay leaves. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.