The food: Maple Syrup Baked Beans
My side of the family hasn’t gotten together for Easter in years, but this year my mother, hoping for an imaginary kind of harmonic family experience, invited me, my siblings, the spouses and the teenage grandchildren over for an Easter Sunday lunch.
When I asked her what I could bring, she said just a bottle of wine, and she’d do all the cooking. Her first thoughts of a menu ran to favorite dishes of her French-Canadian youth, and included maple syrup ham, tourtière, maple syrup scrambled eggs, and especially maple syrup baked beans, which she said she’d been craving. Could I send her my recipe for them?
I emailed her the recipe I’d once had published in a food piece I wrote for the Globe and Mail newspaper but she decided it was too much work. She also changed the menu completely and went with a tasty if somewhat random assortment of foods that included shrimp cocktail, an arugula, pecorino, prosciutto, asparagus and salad, deviled eggs, and smoked salmon wrapped bread straws, among other items.
So I made the baked beans, according to my own recipe, and brought them along, with the requested wine. They came out a little spotted, because I only had grainy Pommery mustard on hand, no Dijon, but they were good and sweet. The tourtière was missed, and we didn’t exactly break out in song, but family harmony did reign. Because of the beans, I’d like to think, but more likely due to the humongous shrimp.
Maple Syrup Baked Beans
2 cups dried navy beans
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
Salt and pepper
Wash beans in colander and pick them over, removing any stones or broken bean bits. Soak beans overnight. Drain beans, return to saucepan and cover with about 6 cups fresh water. Bring to a boil on stovetop, lower heat to medium-low, and cook uncovered for 40 to 50 minutes until tender.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Drain beans and place in deep covered casserole or ovenproof cooking pot with lid. Add other ingredients, stir and cover with about boiling water, to cover beans by half an inch or so, about 3 cups.
Bake covered for about 3 hours, checking and stirring at hourly intervals. Stir in boiling water as needed to keep them from drying out. Serves 8-10 as side dish.