July 14, 2008

Tropical Fusion Baked Beans




Ingredients:
16 oz dried navy beans
1 large onion, sliced
1 mango, cubed
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup chile sauce (like Heinz)
1/2 cup water
2 inch knob of fresh ginger, sliced
4 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon pineapple juice
1 tablespoon grainy mustard*
2 teaspons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Directions:
The day before you want to serve: Place the beans in a pot and fill until the beans are under about 4 inches of water.

The next day: drain the beans and pour them into the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook on low 8-10 hours or until the beans are soft**. I'd check in on it around the 7 to 8 hour mark if possible. If the beans are looking a little dry and are not quite done, add a little water.


*I used the Original Mister Mustard Hot but any grainy, deli-style mustard would work.

**Or up to 12 hours, they just get softer and more intensely flavored the longer they cook.


My thoughts:
I had never made baked beans before but I had heard that using the slow cooker was the way to go. I have to agree. The prep was extremely easy and by dinner time they were done. Added bonus: I didn't have to heat up the house making a side dish on a steamy Summer day. They were also very forgiving, they ended up cooking for almost 12 hours and were still the perfect texture and flavor, which would make them perfect for cook outs or parties-you make them early in the day and then they are ready whenever you are.

I didn't want to make the typical Boston or New England style baked beans so I went for a more Caribbean/tropical influenced version that went well with the rest of the meal. I ended up with beans that still had the texture and look of traditional baked beans but with a spicy, fruity edge. Having never made baked beans before, I was a little nervous but they turned out really well. I sort of approached them like I would pulled pork- lots of spices (but in small amounts because I knew the long cooking time would intensify the flavors) and just enough liquid to keep it from drying out. I don't like super sweet baked beans so I used just a bit of molasses and came up with the idea of using a mango for some natural sweetness. The mango ended up being the perfect addition, it totally "melted" into the beans and added a slightly sweet, almost citrusy flavor that was hard to put your finger on. No one guessed the "secret ingredient" was mango! Despite my deep and abiding love for pork products, I relied on spices and fruit for flavor, not meat, so these beans are a perfect example of an "accidentally" vegan side dish. Even people who didn't normally like baked beans liked these.


17 comments:

  1. Okay, if the pulled pork recipe didn't convince me, this one sure does...I need a slow cooker, counter space be damned!

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  2. I love your twist. And yep, I need a slow cooker, too!

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  3. mmm, i love baked beans. this sounds tasty!

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  4. I love baked beans! My dad and I make some really great ones but we don't have an official recipe, they always come out a little different because each one of us will add different ingredients periodically throughout the cooking process...

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  5. looks good, im gonna make it

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  6. i always think baked beans just come from a can. good on ya to have made baked beans. these look really yummy too! i might have this with a bap. mmmm.

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  7. Sounds fantastic. I like beans cooked from scratch and I'm always out for new slow-cooker recipes...the inclusion of a mango sounds intriguing! :)

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  8. Rachel, I am a baked bean fan anyway. Once you make them the old-fashioned way, out of a can will never do. Love the tropical twist on these.

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  9. That looks really yummy, my bean loving family would love it!

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  10. Gotta love the slow-cooker for sure!

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  11. I think I've fallen in love... these look spectacular!

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  12. mmmmm, the mango and ginger sound like a wonderful addition. I usually make regular ol' boston baked beans but this sounds so delicious. I can't wait to try it. And the slow cooker, great way to go.

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  13. I've always had such bad luck with dried beans, but I've never tried them in a slow cooker...they sound yummy!

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  14. I have yet to make my own baked beans. Your recipe is very tempting. I love how dark the mixture turned out. Looks yummy!

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  15. My boyfriend loves baked beans....I think he might marry me if I make these :)

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  16. I was very excited about this recipe, and tried it today. The flavors are wonderful--the spices are the perfect combination, but the dried beans just didn't cook well in my slow cooker. They have been in for 13 hours now, on low, and are still quite crunchy. I had to add a lot more water than the recipe calls for, too. Next time I will try the same recipe using canned Great Northern Beans (drained) instead, with a little more water (and a lot less time in the crock pot). I also added 1/2 cup light brown sugar to my pot of beans (after the first 8 hours), and my husband appreciated the flavor a lot more after that.

    Thank you for this inspired recipe!

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  17. Anon-Sorry your beans are crunchy. You might have gotten a old batch of beans, they often stay "hard" too long. Were the beans still covered in water when you got up in the morning to make the baked beans? I found they absorbed a huge amount of water. Maybe they didn't soak long enough?

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