In the house where I grew up, my mother treated my brother and me (and my dad, too) to franks and beans for dinner every now and then. The franks came from the kosher butcher who delivered a freezer full of packaged meats to our house a few times a year, and I remember them as the best all-beef franks I've ever eaten. The vegetarian baked beans, on the other hand, came from the grocery store, in the red-and-white can, and I don't remember much about them except that I liked them enough to eat them cold, right from the can, when my mother wasn't looking.
This recipe for vegetarian (and vegan) chipotle baked beans comes close to the taste I remember, except that they're a bit more grown up, not burn-your-mouth spicy, with a deeper smoky flavor that replaces the ham bone added to traditional bean pots. Let the slow cooker do the work, and start with fresh dry beans. No cans needed. When my husband Ted added a couple of turkey franks to a bowl of these beans for dinner, it made me feel like a kid again.
Slow cooker vegetarian chipotle baked beans
From the pantry, you'll need: dried white beans (navy or cannellini or Great Northern beans), molasses, brown sugar, tomato paste, chipotle peppers in adobo, onion, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce.
1 lb dry small white beans
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp vegetarian Worcestershire sauce or mushroom soy sauce
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
Pick over the beans, removing any stones or shriveled beans, and place them in a 4-quart slow cooker. Add the molasses, sugar, tomato paste, chipotles, onion, mustard and Worcestershire. Pour in enough water to cover the beans by 1 inch, and stir everything together.
Cover and cook on LOW for 7 hours.
If the beans are not tender, cook for an additional 30 minutes and check again. If they are tender (and they should be), remove from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon and place in a mixing bowl.
Pour the liquid from the cooker into a small sauce pan, and bring to a boil on the stove over medium heat. Be careful, because the liquid has sugar in it, and it will bubble up at first as the water begins to boil out. Reduce the heat to low, and boil the liquid until it is reduced by half and slightly thickened. Taste (carefully!), and season with salt and pepper.
Reunite the liquid with the cooked beans, and stir gently to combine. Serve hot, or cool completely and refrigerate. The beans will be even better the second day.
Slow cooker lemon-garlic chicken and white bean stew, from The Perfect Pantry
Greek hummus with white beans and feta, from The Perfect Pantry
Slow cooker kielbasa and white bean stew with tomatoes and spinach, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Stewed white beans with tomatoes and rosemary, from Noble Pig