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Slow-Baked Beans

Updated February 23, 2016
This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Over the past decade, I’ve experimented with various ways to cook beans and grains. Assuming that you can find standard approaches in any basic cookbook, I’m using this space to describe two less common techniques that I’m excited about. For beans that hold their shape perfectly and have an intensely creamy texture, try slow-baking them in the oven, and you will be amazed. Although the process may take as long as three hours, almost no work is involved. Since slow-baked beans hold their flavor and shape very nicely when frozen, it’s practical to make a large quantity for later use. I was convinced to try slow-baking beans while reading and cooking from Sylvia Thompson’s The Kitchen Garden Cookbook, a fresh and fetching collection of recipes I heartily recommend. Thompson credits Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times for introducing her to this fine technique. I thank them both, and you will too. By eliminating presoaking and adding salt right from the start, the cooked beans develop maximum flavor, maintain good color, and end up with their glossy skins intact. Especially when seasoned with the ingredients for a Bonus Bean Broth (see below), they are tasty enough to serve as a simple side dish, tossed lightly with olive oil or garnished with fresh herbs.

For a special treat, try this technique with some of the unusual boutique beans now on the market--or slow-bake large limas, which end up looking like suitable fare for Gargantua.

9 to 7 cups cooked beans

Cooking Methodslow cooking

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, gluten-free, halal, healthy, high fiber, kosher, lactose-free, low cholesterol, low saturated fat, low sodium, low-fat, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Mealdinner, lunch

Moodstressed, tired

Taste and Texturesavory

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (about 2½ cups) dried beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
  • Boiling water to cover beans by 2 inches

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