Baked Beans

Every once in a while when we go out to eat, I’ll see something that really catches my attention. Sometimes, it will inspire me to make the dish.

That’s the way it was the other night when we went to the Italian Moon and settled on the buffet. When it comes to the Moon’s food smorgasbord, I’m not much for chicken and spaghetti, although the Moon does a nice job with those two. I’m more of a salad and pizza guy.

But this time, some baked beans caught my eye, and I had to  sample them. And boy were they good. So good, that I had to get seconds. It also made me think about fixing a batch at home.

I was contemplating making them this week, but with the temperatures staying summerlike, my baked beans plans have been put on hold for a while.

I have a couple of diferent recipes for baked beans in mind but don’t know which one to use. I recently spotted this recipe in "American Classics," by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine (Boston Common Press, 2002), and might give it a try.

Barbecue Baked Beans
¼ pound bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 pound dried navy beans
1 cup strong black coffee
¼ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1½ tablespoons brown mustard, such as Gulden’s
½ cup plus tablespoon barbecue sauce
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
Salt, ground black pepper
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Rinse the beans in a strainer and remove any debris or dark-colored beans.
Heat a 6-quart Dutch oven over medium heat for 2 minutes, add the bacon and cook until lightly browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the rinsed beans and the coffee, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, ½ cup barbecue sauce, hot pepper sauce, 2 teaspoons salt and 8 cups water. Increase heat to high. When boiling, cover the pot and place it in the oven.
Bake, stirring about once an hour, until beans are soft, about 4 hours. Remove lid and continue to cook until liquid is syrupy, 1 to 1½ hours. Remove from oven and stir in the remaining tablespoon barbecue sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. (Can be made several days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat over medium-low before serving.)
Yield: Serves 8.