Sunday, November 30, 2008

Not Your Average Baked Beans

I discovered this recipe for baked beans on one of my favorite sites, 101 Cookbooks. If you've never checked it out, it's authored by Heidi Swanson, who is also a food photographer extraordinaire.

It's a really simple recipe, perfectly suited for the crockpot and so delicious it will make your eyes roll back in your head when you eat it. The only unusual ingredient was the beer. I used the same thing Heidi used--Lindeman's Framboise Lambic. It is a raspberry flavored Belgian style beer. It's way too sweet for my taste, but it makes an outstanding ingredient. I found it easily at our cute neighborhood wine shop, Once Upon a Vine. I think any berry flavored beer would work nicely. We used dried cranberries for the fruit, and we also used cranberry beans, which look quite a bit like pinto beans to me. They're very streaky and pretty. The only change I made to the recipe is the addition of garlic. I put in about 3 or 4 cloves, minced. I can't leave a recipe well enough alone, especially if it doesn't have garlic in it!

I started the beans before I left for work today and let them cook in the crockpot all afternoon. When I came back later and walked in the door the aroma made me salivate. Then I put the bread in the oven to bake and that just about put me over the edge!

And if any of you are thinking of trying this recipe and taking the slacker route, don't cop out and use canned beans or you will be punished. The dried beans cook a lot longer but they pick up all the flavors like crazy and all you have to do is soak them overnight. You can even sleep while the beans soak! Talk about multi-tasking.

I love, love, love coleslaw with my baked beans. I took a shortcut and bought the prepared cabbage and carrot stuff in the bag, but I also added about 1/4 cup of very finely chopped purple onion. I made a non-traditional dressing because I wanted a sesame flavor. I used canola oil, rice vinegar, fresh pureed garlic and ginger, sugar, salt, pepper, tahini and a few drops of sesame oil. Wow, it was really good!

On this cold, rainy and gray day, this ended up being the perfect dinner. Fragrant and savory beans, warm crusty bread (with butter going all melty, of course) and crisp, tangy coleslaw. So much for ramping down after Thanksgiving!


Robyn O'Neill said...

You have a Once Upon a Vine over there? We have one around the corner, too. We live there in the summer.

Janine Serresseque said...

Yep, they opened on on the Southside and I love them!

TDEC said...

You used Lindemans Framboise. Ah. Too sweet? Insanity. I say drink it. Why waste the best fruit beer in the known universe on beans, no matter how wonderful.