♥ With beer! Not your breakfast or children's baked beans these :-) ♥
Oh yeah....time to get my Canadian on! Baked beans are a funny one with me as I never liked them growing up and only developed a taste for them when I moved to England in 1998. I think it's actually a prerequisite to moving there, they won't let you in without declaring a love of baked beans :-) I don't know why I wasn't keen as a child, to be honest I'm not sure I ever had them! I should have liked them though because in Canada a common tinned baked bean flavour is maple. Yes, maple baked beans, with proper Canadian maple syrup. This I had to make, and was very pleased to find this recipe for maple baked beans but then I thought, how much MORE Canadian can I make these? And basically two things come to my mind when I think of food back home - maple syrup and beer. This was a no-brainer - chuck a bottle of beer into the maple sauce and I'm golden.
Well it turned out fantastic! I made a few changes to the process of cooking beans here, mostly adopting Heidi Swanson's tip in Super Natural Cooking of adding a bunch of veg and or herbs to the beans while they cook, and of course, I've added beer here as well. The end result is not like the baked beans you know - these are even sweeter - the maple flavour is quite pronounced here which is good I think - otherwise what's the point of adding it?? You do want to actually taste maple and I think the beer not only added great flavour but most likely cut through the sweetness a bit as well. Of course if sweet savoury things are not your thing you could always cut back on the maple syrup.....but then again if sweet/savoury isn't your thing you wouldn't be making maple beans would you?? Oh and I am calling them baked beans here as that is what these are based on, even though no baking is involved at all!
As I was making homemade "baked" beans it seemed rather wasteful to then put them on top of store bought slice bread. I have to thank my husband here who said, "Don't you make a beer bread that's really good?" Perfect. Beer bread for the maple beer beans - a match made in Canadian heaven :-) I've had this recipe for beer bread for years! I'm guessing I started using it around 1991, where I got it from I have no idea but it was the first bread recipe I would make before learning how to use yeast. Basically the beer works as it already has yeast in it and makes a light, airy bread with a beautiful golden crust. I haven't made it for so long as I always opt for yeast risen recipes now but I will be making this regularly now - I forgot how amazing this bread is, great flavour and texture for a quick bread and it goes so well with the sweet maple beer beans.
A few recipe notes: You will need a day to make these as using dried beans are essential here, I'm generally a canned bean kinda girl but not here as you want to cook the beans in the beer and sauce and tinned will turn to mush. For the ketchup I always use Heinz 'reduced salt and sugar' - not sure it would have made a huge difference though. Little moosey here approved!!
Drunk Canadian Maple Baked Beans
225g or 1 1/4 cups dried haricot beans (also called navy beans)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp barbeque sauce
2 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp smoked sea salt (regular is fine too)
1 x 330ml can or bottle of lager, Moosehead for an Authentic Canadian version (it's vegan!)
1 medium onion, quartered
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
1 stem of fresh thyme
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
The night before wash the beans then soak in a large bowl of cold water and leave overnight. The next morning drain and rinse the beans well then place in a large saucepan and fill with fresh cold water. Bring to the boil then boil the beans rapidly for 10 minutes with the lid off. Add the chopped veg and thyme, bring back to boil then cover and simmer for 50 minutes, giving the beans 1 hour cooking time in total. Stir now and again.
While the beans are simmering add all the sauce ingredients except the beer to a bowl and whisk well.
Check that the beans are tender now, if not give them a little longer, when just tender drain and remove the veg. Don't worry about removing small bits of onion or the little thyme leaves that have fallen off, they add nice flavour to the beans, just remove the large pieces of veg, thyme stalk and garlic cloves.
Place the beans back in the pot and pour over the sauce and the beer. Stir well and bring to the boil. Boil without a lid until it just starts to reduce and thicken up then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until further reduced and thickened to how you like it, mine took 20 minutes from when I added the sauce. I prefer my beans not very 'saucy' and reduced it quite a bit, you may like to leave it earlier. You can use them now or transfer to a bowl and let cool, cover and refrigerate - they reheat really easy either on a stovetop or in the microwave.
Herbed Beer Bread:
300g (2 3/4C) plain flour
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried herbs of your choice - I used mixed herbs and actually 1 1/2 tsp as I like it herby!
1 x 330ml can or bottle of lager of your choice
Grease a 1.5 ltr loaf pan and line the bottom with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 375F / 180C. Whisk everything but the beer in a large bowl. Pour in the beer then stir and fold in with a rubber spatula until fully mixed. It will be very thick! Scrape this mixture into the loaf pan and even off the top. Pop into the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until risen and golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean. Optional - I like to now brush vegan butter all over the top, it just adds a lovely flavour. Leave it in the tin for 5 minutes then remove onto a wire rack to fully cool.
This bread is so good fresh from the oven like this but for the beans I preferred it the next day so I could toast it and slather it with vegan butter.
And of course, while I have focused thus far on just the beans and bread they both go exceptionally well as part of a larger fry up. The sweet maple beans contrasting perfectly with some lightly salted flat mushrooms and spicy vegan sausages, I've used Fry's Braai Country Herb Flavour here and I hope you'll all forgive me for being out of hash browns ;-) Tomatoes purposely left out....I never 'got' that!
Maple Beer Baked Beans: per 100g
Sat Fat: 0
Sugar: 15.2g (yup, told you they were sweeter!)
Herbed Beer Bread: per 100g
Sat Fat: 0.1
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