20 September 2009

Big Sur Bakery's Baked Beans

Big Sur Bakery's Baked Beans (with title)
So I am back from my observership from North Carolina- and if you've been paying attention, it won't be long before I have a travel post on it. I'm not quite sure if anyone's interested, but of course I'll try my best to make it interesting. Certainly it was a good trip and I enjoyed my time there thoroughly, but a lot of it had to do with my time inside the hospital, and of course I did my best not to take any pictures of anyone in the hospital or the surroundings (there were some really endearing patients along the way, but I'm protecting their privacy of course). So we'll see what I'm able to write. But I'm here now, in case you were wondering if I died or something. Observership gave me a cold hard look at how much time I'd be spending on my blog if I had work (and observership isn't even work!) and the sad fact is, it's nearly zero hours. Well, unless you count the time I spend actually cooking. Maybe I can spend my one free day cooking and the free day next week blogging. Two posts (or less) a month, ha ha ha!

Now I wait. I applied for a not-small number of hospitals and now I'm expecting the first invitation to interview. Annnnny day now. In the neeeext minute. It must be their coffee break. I'll check again in ten minutes. Just kidding- they actually have tons of applications to go through and if I've learned anything from this whole experience, it's to be confident of the skills you've acquired, because no one else will see it if you don't.

Anyway, I hate that these days, every time I open my mouth on my blog (er, so to speak), it's about my career. That is SO not what I wanted to happen and I know it bores the hell out of everyone (careers are just those things better lived than discussed). It's just that the waiting and anxiety and uncertainty gets to me. This is the biggest chance I've ever taken and I am hoping, praying that it will pay off. Perhaps for my loyal readers this isn't quite the return to form that they were waiting for, but I hope you hang in there till I can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Now. This is a hardcore recipe for baked beans from The Big Sur Bakery cookbook, which I reviewed at The Gastronomer's Bookshelf recently. I made a few more recipes from the book which I'll reveal in future posts, but I thought this would be a good place to start. I love baked beans, but this was quite different for me-- not the sweet, tomato-ey and molasses-y beans I expected. Unfortunately, I still prefer those beans over these (and check out Allen's post on those perfect baked beans here) BUT these beans were still pretty good and actually healthier since it doesn't have quite as much sugar and salt (huh, maybe that's why I like the canned stuff?!). Something definitely worth waiting for, in any case! :)

Baked Beans from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook

  • 450g (1 pound) dried red/navy/cranberry beans (I used red beans)

  • 1 small onion, halved

  • 1 small carrot

  • 1 small celery stalk

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1kg (1 quart) chicken stock

  • 90g (3 ounces) bacon, diced

  • 45g (3 tablespoons) whole-grain mustard

  • 40g (3 tablespoons) brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground coffee beans

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

Place the beans in a large bowl, cover with water and soak at room temperature overnight. Drain the beans and place them in a dutch oven with the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, garlic, chicken stock, and bacon. Place on high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes (the time is variable, but I found I had to cook them for longer), skimming off any foam that forms.

Strain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Discard the onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf. Place the beans back in the dutch oven and preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). In a small bowl, combine the mustard, brown sugar, ground coffee, ground pepper, salt, and reserved cooking liquid. Stir this into the beans, cover with aluminum foil (I just used the lid), and bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the beans have absorbed most of the liquid. Remove from the oven, and stir in the fresh herbs.

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