Sweet Preacher Baked Beans
Now let us praise grilled weenies and baked beans. Not just any beans–a homemade pot of beans, slow-cooked in the oven with bacon, tomatoes, brown sugar, and Sweet Preacher (the molasses-kissed blend is perfect for sweet and smoky beans). The creamy texture of these beans trumps anything that comes from a can.
With the weather cooling in much of the country, this is the perfect recipe to pull together for tailgate parties, barbecues, or simply a wholly satisfying, all-American dinner. Once you’ve assembled the pot, the remainder of cooking time is unattended. Serve the baked beans warm or at room temp, with smoked butt, burgers–or embrace the charred frank.
Sweet Preacher Baked Beans
2 hours 30 minutes
I’m a card carrying member of the Rancho Gordo Bean Club, so my larder is filled with dried legumes. I used cranberry beans for this recipe, but feel free to use pinto, red, or pink beans. Or go Yankee with navy beans, the variety that’s traditional in New England. To give these beans a deeply flavorful brown crust, leave the lid off for the last 45 minutes of cooking, and/or finish the pot about 4 inches under the broiler (but watch them closely or the sugar will burn).
1 pound dried beans (e.g. cranberry, pinto, navy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ lb thick-cut bacon slices (or ½ pound slab bacon), cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1½ cups crushed tomatoes
⅓ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup Sweet Preacher seasoning
1½ tablespoons Dijon
4 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
4 thyme sprigs
2 cups water
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
Hot sauce, such as Crystal or Cholula, as desired
Salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed
Soak the beans in a pot bowl of water for 4 hours or overnight. Drain beans.
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Place a heavy 2- to 3-quart casserole over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is simmering, add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown but is still soft. Add the onions and saute until they begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, if using, and saute for an additional minute. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, brown sugar, Sweet Preacher seasoning, Dijon, bay leaves, thyme sprigs and 2 cups of water. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.
Place the beans in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Add the vinegar, then taste the beans and add hot sauce, salt, and pepper, as desired. Return the covered pot to the oven and bake for another 1 ½ - 2 hours, until the beans are very tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed.