My adorable nephew came over recently to hang out with auntie and his cousins. I sure miss the days when my kids where that young, snuggly and innocent. Now my not-so-innocent angels are traveling to different states with the grandparents and going off to overnight camps and slowly becoming young ladies learning to navigate their pre-teens. Even my little fella will be in grade school this fall and has seemingly overnight turned into a bonafide big kid and riding his bike sans training wheels. Sigh. My kids may be changing but some things never do. Like the ability of maple baked beans to elicit childhood memories and serve as comfort picnic food.
Growing up, we used to pop open a can of tomato sauced baked beans and then add our own sauce to it or if we were feeling really un-creative, we’d get the Bush’s baked beans which were already fully seasoned. These were staples of easy end-of-day eating that went with nearly every cut of grilled meat we served but these beans were still processed and from a can. I’ve been determined to recreate our “home cooked” familiar flavor of baked beans and haven’t found a way to recreate it quite perfectly just yet without a lot of refined brown sugar. Instead, in my attempts to recreate our family fav I did manage to create an awesome adaptation of maple bourbon baked beans which are made without any refined sugars. Baked beans do take time to prepare from dry beans but the results are worth it. These slightly sweet and oh so scrumptious maple bourbon baked beans are a scratch made side perfect for picnic party heaven.
- 1 pound dry navy beans
- 1 vidalia onion, diced and caramelized if desired
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup spicy brown mustard
- ⅔ cup organic all natural ketchup
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup coconut palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (use tamari or coconut aminos for vegan option)1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- 2 teaspoons pink Himalayan or smoked salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 shot of bourbon
- Soak beans overnight in cold water. Simmer beans in the same water 1-2 hours until tender. Drain and reserve liquid.
- While beans are simmering, caramelize the onion in a sauté pan with the garlic and a tablespoon or so of olive oil on LOW heat until it is tender, translucent and turning a nice caramel color. Be patient, true caramelization takes 30-45 minutes. If you don’t wish to caramelize the onion, simply sauté on medium heat until it starts to become translucent.
- In a bowl, combine mustard, ketchup, maple syrup, coconut sugar, worcestershire, molasses, salt, pepper, and bourbon. Stir until smooth.
- Add cooked beans to a crockpot or dutch oven and gently stir in onion and the sauce. Add reserved cooking liquid from the beans to cover about one inch above the beans. If you don’t have reserved liquid, just add water.
- Slow cook on low 6 hours or bake at 325 degrees about 4 hours until beans are plump and the sauce has thickened.
- Check beans and gently stir halfway through cooking. If sauce becomes too dry, add more liquid and continue cooking until done.