This is a family recipe. I grew up eating these beans, several times a month, so much so they're almost part of my DNA. My mother always used canned pork and beans, which makes the dish very soft, and to me, comforting. But, I also like it made with dried white beans, which is what I used here. My mother never measured the ingredients, just added the "correct" amount by eyeballing it, adjusting the taste until it was just right. And that's exactly what I do. The taste of the beans is sweet, spicy, and garlicky, with a slight smokey taste. We always ate them with hot dogs. In the winter, the dogs were cooked submerged in the beans, which is my favorite way of preparing them. But, in the summer they were grilled. I love eating these beans, because they always remind me of my mother. And, of course, they get better over a period of days, sitting in the fridge.
Southern Baked Beans
You can cook these in a covered casserole on top of a burner, but I've never found that they get the right texture, as when you bake them. The amounts of the seasonings is just a guideline. I always adjust the beans to my taste as I prepare them. You can use canned pork and beans, but omit the crushed tomatoes if you do.
1 pound dried small white beans. I used Great Northern Beans
1 bay leaf
1 15 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 large yellow onion, chopped small
1 green bell pepper, chopped small
1 large stalk of celery, chopped small
4-6 large cloves of garlic, well chopped
2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
about 1/2 cup ketchup
about 1/2 cup good barbecue sauce
2 heaping Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 squirt of sriracha, to your taste
Sort through the dried beans and discard bad ones or any dirt. Rinse well and cover with cold water. Let sit over-night. When ready to cook, add the bay leaf and make sure the beans are covered with enough water. Bring the beans to a boil and then lower the heat and cook, slightly covered, on top of the stove until tender, but not mushy. Add more water if necessary as they cook.
While beans are cooking, saute the onions, bell pepper, garlic, and celery until soft, then set aside. When the beans are done, drain off the liquid and retain it. Add the onion mixture, the crushed tomatoes, and the rest of the ingredients. Stir the beans and taste them to see if you need more ketchup, mustard and so forth (I always do). Add bean broth, if necessary, to have the liquid just cover the beans. Cover the pot with a well fitting lid, and bake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees.