Baked beans are a one-pot staple that defies geography. You’ll see a pot of beans as regularly in the churches of Maine as you will in the barbecue joints of Tennessee. Chipotle peppers add a subtle smokiness that extends the meat-mimicking caper of the beans. And the peppers’ tobacco-like earthiness matches beautifully with the sweet underline of honey. An herby breadcrumb topping gilds the lily, evoking the classic French version of the dish, cassoulet.
Honey-Chipotle Baked Beans
Serves 4 to 6
- 3 to 5 dried chipotle peppers (depending on your desired heat level)
- ½ cup boiling water
- 3 strips smoky bacon
- ½ red onion, cut into 4 pieces
- ½ red bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons Colman’s mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey (maple syrup or sorghum syrup would also work well here)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 cups meaty white beans (such as Great Northern)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
In a small bowl, combine the chipotle peppers and the boiling water and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°.
In a food processor, add the bacon and process until it is a paste. Add the red onion, red pepper, carrot and garlic and process until the vegetables are finely chopped and incorporated in the paste.
In a Dutch oven over medium heat, add the bacon-vegetable mixture and cook slowly, until the fat from the bacon has rendered and the vegetables begin to smell roasted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the smoked paprika, mustard, honey and tomato paste. Drain the chipotles from their liquid and finely chop. Add the chipotles to the Dutch oven, along with the white beans. Add the chicken stock, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake an additional 15 to 30 minutes, until the beans are quite tender. Stir in the vinegar and season with salt to taste.
In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, parsley and olive oil together. Season with a bit of salt, and spread the breadcrumb mixture in an even layer over the top of the beans. Heat under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until the breadcrumbs have turned golden brown. Serve immediately.
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