from Julie Van Rosendaal
Smoky baked beans simmered with bourbon makes a natural pairing. Starting with dry beans is worth your while – it takes a little extra time, but not much effort.
2 c. dry navy (little white) beans
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
3/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1/4 c. bourbon
2 T. grainy mustard
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 t. each salt and freshly ground pepper
1 ham bone, smoked pork hock or handful of diced ham (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325°F. If you want to kick-start the bean cooking process by soaking them, cover them with water and leave them overnight; otherwise just place the dry beans in a medium pot, add enough water to cover by a couple of inches and bring to a simmer. Cook for about an hour, until tender but still a bit firm to the bite. Drain, reserving the cooking water. Transfer the beans to your bean pot (or a heavy baking dish) and add the onion, garlic, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, bourbon, mustard, balsamic, salt and pepper. Tuck in the ham bone or stir in the chopped ham. Add 2 cups of the leftover cooking water (add regular water to top it up if you need to) and stir to combine.
Cover and bake for 3-4 hours, uncovering for the last hour or so, or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thick and sticky around the edges. If the beans seem too dry, add a bit more water. Serves 8.