Beer-Baked White Beans
Who doesn’t love baked beans? In summer, though, they can seem a bit heavy and out of place. To lighten this classic New England dish, here’s a variation made with white beans and white beer.
- 1 pound dried white beans (preferably Rancho Gordo’s Mayacoba), picked over and brined*
- 6 slices smoked bacon, diced
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, smashed and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2 12-ounce bottles Belgian-style white ale (such as Otter Creek Brewing Summer Wheat Ale)
- 1¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- At least eight hours ahead, brine the white beans as directed in Note below.
- Heat the oven to 350°F. In a Dutch oven or large heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp and browned, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.
- Reduce the heat to medium, and remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot to release the browned bits that stick to the bottom of the pot, until the onion is translucent.
- Add the mustard and maple syrup, and cook 1 minute. Add the rosemary, beans, beer, and chicken broth; season with salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and place in the oven.
- Bake until the beans are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 2 hours. Stir in the reserved bacon, and season to taste with the vinegar and ground black pepper.
- Brining beans—as opposed to soaking them—makes the skins tender but allows them to stay intact during a long cooking. To brine beans, dissolve 1½ tablespoons of table salt in 2 quarts (8 cups) of cold water. Stir until all the salt has dissolved. This is enough brine for 1 pound of beans. Let the beans soak in the brine for at least 8 hours, or up to 12. Then rinse them well (or your dish will taste like a mouthful of ocean water).
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