(Boston) Baked Beans

boston baked beans

Boston Baked Beans served in a bowl of garlic mashed potatoes.

When thinking about gluten free diets, the temptation is to focus on replacements for bread, pasta, cakes, and such like, so when I include naturally gluten free foods in the blog, I sometimes feel a bit sheepish. However, I’ve been making Boston Baked Beans for far longer than I’ve been interested in making gluten free bread, because they’re such a good staple, and they are gluten free, so I hope you enjoy them! In actual fact, I’ve included two recipes, below. For Boston Baked Beans, the sauce is chunky. For regular baked beans, blend the sauce with some non-dairy cream cheez until completely smooth before adding to the beans.

If you’re not used to cooking beans from scratch, don’t get fazed. It’s really straight-forward: Clean the beans. Soak the beans. Cook the beans. Add the beans to the other ingredients. Most of the time is spent doing other things while the beans do their thing under water.

1 lb (2 cups) dried navy or great northern beans (or other small, white bean)
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsps oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3-4 tbsp brown sugar (use white sugar for standard baked beans)
1 tbsp honey mustard (check for gluten!)
3 tbsp black strap molasses
1 x 28oz tin of tomatoes (Doesn’t look like enough to start off with, but it is – once it’s cooked.)
1 tbsp fresh thyme OR 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1-2 tsps salt
(1 oz vegan cream cheez for standard baked beans, omit for Boston Baked)

Check the beans over for debris and damaged beans to be discarded, then rinse them.
Put the beans in a pressure cooker pan or large saucepan, with water to cover them by about 2 inches; bring to the boil; turn off the heat; cover, and leave to soak for an hour or until a bean can be split in half with your finger nail, and appears to be the same color all the way through. Soaked bean

Drain the beans, and rinse them. (This makes them less gassy for those folks who don’t eat beans frequently.)

Return the beans to the pot with enough clean water to cover by about 1/2”. If you don’t use a pressure cooker, you’ll need to add more water either at the beginning, or as the cooking continues. Aim to have the water remain above the level of the beans throughout the whole process.

In a pressure cooker, bring the beans up to pressure, turn off the heat, leaving the pan in place, and allow to come down from pressure naturally.

If you’re just boiling the beans in a regular pan, cover with a tight fitting lid, and simmer for about an hour (this may be more depending on how old the dried beans are), checking the water level once in a while.

Cook beans until tender but not disintegrating. They won’t soften further after the addition of the other ingredients, no matter how long you boil. Any slight crunch will be obvious, and the beans won’t be a pleasure to eat, so taste one to check! If you’re using the pressure cooker, just boil the beans conventionally, if they’re still not quite soft enough when they come down from pressure.

Sauté the onion in the oil until soft.

Add the garlic to the onion, and warm through for a minute before adding all the other ingredients (except the beans).

If making standard baked beans, now put all the sauce ingredients into the food processor (or use an immersion blender) and blend. Pass the sauce through a sieve or chinois, if available, but you can skip this step, if not.

For both kinds of beans: Drain the beans; add the sauce to beans, and simmer for 30 minutes until the beans have taken up the flavor and color.

Serve hot with baked potatoes, or on almond bread toast, or under a cobbler topping.

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