Thursday, March 21, 2013

Southwest Baked Beans

I wanted to do something with my aging Anasazi beans. They're so beautiful, and have looked great in a special jar I display them in, but they needed to be used before they wouldn't cook up tender anymore.

So I looked up recipes online, and kept running into baked beans. I love baked beans!

But these are Anasazi beans and deserve a Southwestern presentation. So last night I adapted a baked bean recipe to Anasazis. The result is something that is clearly a cousin to Boston Baked Beans, but is also distinctively Southwestern.

Southwestern Baked Beans

2 cups beans - I used Anasazi, but other beans that stay firm would do. Rinse then cover the beans in water. Soak for 24-48 hours, then cook on low in a crockpot for another half-day or day or so. I used the same water so I wouldn't lose nutrients.

3-4 strips good quality thick bacon or side pork.

Line the bottom of a large glass brownie pan (9x13 works) with the bacon, then pour the beans, including liquid, over it.

1 large onion, 5 cloves garlic, 1/2-1 cup medium-heat chilies (roasted or canned or freeze-dried), carrots (optional)

Chop a large onion into dime-sized pieces, dice the garlic fine or smash, chop the chilies fine, grate the carrots if you want to use them.

Add all these veggies to the top of the baking dish. Don't stir yet.

1 - 1 1/2 cups tomatoes: Use canned crushed, diced fresh, or sauce. Pour the tomatoes over everything else.

Salt is optional. I use a good quality salt called Real Salt. Sprinkle on whatever your taste suggests.

Now stir. Be careful not to disturb the bacon. You want the veggies underwater (or under tomato sauce). You don't need to make it uniform - a light top-stirring will do.

Put in a 275 degree oven - no need to preheat. Check it after 2-3 hours, and if the top is drying out, top-stir to moisten everything. If the liquid is thick at this point, add water.

Continue cooking until a deep and pleasant aroma escapes the oven next time you look. You want the onions to be cooked well and the sauce to be somewhat thick. (It won't thicken all the way till it cools off.) Remove it from the oven. Total cooking time is perhaps 4 hours. Resist eating until mealtime despite the amazing vapors. Or go ahead and try some. Hmmm!

When you serve it, stir in the bacon, breaking up the pieces as needed. If you love bacon, you can also top the whole panful after adding the tomatoes and let it cook right on top. This first time I used side pork, which was rather chunky, so it's blended throughout the beans now.

I'm packaging half of it for the freezer. Serves about 4-6, and makes a meal if you've added the carrots.

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