With winter well and truly arrived, it was time to pull out the slow cooker that Michael gave me for my last birthday. I figured it was also time that I tried cooking dried beans at home - you might have noticed that all of our leguminous recipes use cans. It turns out that this is really s l o w c o o k i n g. First the beans need to be soaked in room temperature water for at least 8 hours.(I was surprised how much they expanded in this one step!) Then they go into the slow cooker with some garlic and bay leaves for 8-12 hours. Then after a little rinse they go back into the slow cooker with their sauce ingredients for 6-8 hours more!
Happily, these baked beans were worth the wait. They're actually remarkably similar to how I remember canned baked beans tasting (... I haven't eaten those for years). They are extraordinarily soft and this sauce is very sweet (I guess that's the maple syrup talking). Michael liked them even more with a little Tabasco sauce. I reckon I could go for a little more bite, so in future I'd like to try skipping the intermediate slow-cooking step and go straight from soaking to slow-cooking with sauce (while keeping an eye on the moisture levels). I'd probably add a few chilli flakes to the brew as well. There's still a half-kilo of dried beans in the cupboard and several months of cold weather ahead - plenty of room to experiment.
(based on a recipe in Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson)
Note that this recipe makes roughly double the beans required for the maple baked bean recipe below. We threw some of the leftover beans in pasta for dinner later in the week, and made a half-serve of this Veganomicon recipe with the rest.
500g dried Great Northern (or other) beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
Place the dried beans in a large contained and cover them with water, with an extra inch or two of water on top. Leave them to soak for 8 hours or overnight.
Drain the beans and transfer them to a slow cooker, adding the garlic and bay leaves. Cover them with fresh water, pop on the lid and cook the beans on low for 8-12 hours.
Gently drain and rinse the beans when they're done.
Maple baked beans
(from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cups Great Northern beans, cooked as above
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 1/4 cups hot water
Saute the onion in the oil in a frypan over medium heat, for about 5 minutes or until softened. Transfer the onion to a slow cooker and add the beans, maple syrup, mustard, salt and pepper. Dissolve the tomato paste into the hot water and pour it over the beans. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook the beans on low for 6-8 hours.