American as Baked Beans
AS AMERICAN AS . . . BAKED BEANS
Celebrate National Baked Bean Month This July
When it comes to baked beans, there are certain truths that, as Americans, we hold to be self-evident: Like the fact that theyre a classic, national comfort food. But if you think this American favorite can only be made with White beans and traditional seasonings, think again. The truth is, like barbecue and other classic American fare, no single recipe for baked beans defines the dish for the country. When making baked beans, you have the freedom to experiment with different bean varieties, spices and ingredients to create a dish that suits your taste.
Certainly, the New England-style baked beans featuring Navy or White beans and molasses are the most well-known and enduring. But around the country, different preparation methods and the use of regional ingredients can result in new renditions of this old favorite.
At Chicagos Zinfandel restaurant, where Chef and Co-Owner Susan Goss presents a celebration of American food and wine, baked beans are as likely to appear in the traditional Boston-style as they are in a braised, Southwestern-influenced creation made with Black beans. Goss has even upscaled baked beans with confit of duck or foie gras in place of traditional pork fat or bacon. Beans are a blank canvas that anybody can use to create a total comfort food, she explains. Theyve got great texture and blend well with the flavors of whatever theyre cooked with.
Celebrating Our Diversity
July marks National Baked Bean Month, the perfect time to indulge in a traditional favorite recipe or experiment with an American regional variation. These two recipes from the Bean Education & Awareness Network (B.E.A.N.) allow for just that:
Rio Arriba Baked Beans, inspired by the robust flavors of the Southwest, combine poblano and jalapeño chilies, sun-dried tomatoes, cumin, Pinto or Black beans, and a bit of brown sugar for a touch of sweetness.
Nantucket Baked Beans give a nod to the classic New England method, while celebrating the Portuguese heritage of many Atlantic seaboard cities with the inclusion of diced linguiça. Kidney or Navy beans are equally at home in this recipe.
Theres just no limit to the creativity cooks can bring to a batch of soothing, satisfying baked beans. How about a new one for every day in July?
*** Read more in our companion article that covers the history of the baked bean and plenty of additional recipes: Baked Beans Month
Source: Bean Education & Awareness Network (B.E.A.N.)