Monday, January 12, 2009

Alton Brown's Baked Beans

A long time ago, I searched high and low for a good baked bean recipe. I finally found this one from "The Food Networks" Alton Brown. I've made this recipe several times and I am hooked. I can't tell you the last time I bought a can of baked beans.

While not a must, I do recommend the use of a cast iron Dutch oven. The cast iron does a superb job of evenly heating the beans. The heavy lid seals the pot firmly, and the nipples on the inside collect and uniformly distribute the moisture. But if you don't have a cast iron pot, don't worry. A regular pot will work fine. Just make sure you have a tight fitting lid.

The recipe calls for two jalapenos peppers. You can adjust the "heat" of the dish by how much of the peppers you use. I typically use one entire pepper and discard the seeds and veins of the second.

When adding the reserved bean water/vegetable broth, I've done it many different ways. I've used just bean water, just vegetable broth, and various combinations of the two. In my opinion, no one mixture came out better over the other. I believe that the reserve bean water contains the bi-products which result in beans causing gas, so use the bean water at your discretion!

This recipe is great at building anticipation. It makes your kitchen smell great for the entire day. I love to make it on a lazy Sunday afternoon so I can hang around the house and enjoy the wonderful aromas.


1lb dried great northern beans
1lb bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
Vegetable Broth
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. kosher salt

  1. Place great northern beans in a plastic container, and cover with just enough water to submerge. Let soak overnight.
  2. Heat oven to 250 deg. F.
  3. Place a cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat and stir in the bacon, onion, and jalapenos until a enough fat has rendered from the bacon to soften the onions, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste, dark brown sugar, and molasses.
  5. Drain the beans and reserve the soaking liquid. Add the drained beans to the Dutch oven.
  6. Place the soaking liquid in a measuring cup and add enough vegetable broth to equal 4 cups liquid. Add the liquid to the Dutch Oven and bring to a boil over high heat.
  7. Add in cayenne, black pepper, and salt. Give them a stir and cover with the lid.
  8. Place the Dutch oven in the oven for 6 to 8 hrs, or until the beans are tender.

From the Food Channel Website

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