Sweet potatoes instead of sugar. With summer just around the corner, I'm ready for cookout season. With all the indulgences that accompany cookouts, I've been on a quest to make a baked bean recipe without all the added sugar. This particular rendition is one that not only cuts down on added refined sugar but it adds a more substantial, nutritious punch by adding pureed sweet potatoes. They're not the prettiest baked beans in the world, but I promise--they are delicious. I've tried this with both dried, cooked white beans and canned beans. If using beans cooked from dried, I'd recommend increasing the cook time. —Mary Catherine Tee
dried navy beans, soaked overnight (or 4 cans of small white beans, drained with bean liquid reserved)
100% maple syrup
slices of thick-cut bacon, cut in 1/4 inch strips
If using dried beans, soak overnight. When ready to cook, drain water. Place beans in a pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Add a healthy pinch of salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to simmer and let beans cook until tender, about 45 minutes. Once cooked, drained and reserve some of the bean liquid. If using canned beans (see ingredient note), drain and beans in a large sieve, reserving bean liquid.
To bake sweet potatoes, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Rub bottoms and skins generously with olive oil. Place flesh side down on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
Reduce oven to 300 degrees.
Over medium heat, add bacon to a large, heavy-bottom, oven-proof dutch oven, Cook until fat just starts to render, about 3 minutes. Add onion and green pepper stirring to coat veggies with bacon fat. Cook stirring occasionally until onions and pepper is soft, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, dry mustard, tomato paste, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat veggies and bacon until caramelized slightly, about 30 seconds.
Add drained cooked beans to the dutch oven. Stir. Add beer and stock to the pot and stir, scraping up the brown bits at the bottom of the pot.
Scoop out the meat of the potatoes into a blender. Discard skins. Add maple syrup. Blend until pureed. If too thick, add a little bean liquid to blender to make a thick-but-pourable puree.
Stir sweet potato puree into beans, mixing well.
Place the lid on the dutch oven or oven-proof pot and bake covered for 2 hours, stirring halfway through. If the beans look like they're drying out, add some of the bean liquid and stir.
I’m an old soul. My favorite Saturday morning activity is watching birds on the feeder while drinking strong, black coffee out of my favorite hand-thrown mug. My favorite place to kill time is in antique stores. The less organized the better. I like full-bodied red wines and bitter IPAs. I live for feeling the warmth of sunshine and hearing the stillness of freshly fallen snow. I can thank my stint in Alaska for that. I have salt water in my veins, having grown up in Eastern NC, and (shhh…don’t tell any of my Mainer friends this about me) I prefer blue crab over lobster.