Speedy Semi-Homemade Baked Beans

Today, we appreciate classic regional American dishes as much as fancy European creations or exotic Asian cuisine. Thanks to television chefs, cookbooks and the Internet, we have learned to make many of them, so we can enjoy authentic Cajun gumbo and North Carolina barbeque, for example, without having to go on the road.

Because of our growing taste for spicy food, one region tends to get lost in the culinary shuffle. New England clambakes are romanticized, and fiddlehead ferns show up in a growing number of supermarkets each spring, but most cooks prefer to serve baked beans from a can than to even consider making them from scratch.

If you even own a bean pot, the chubby earthenware container New Englanders have used since before Boston became known as “Beantown,” it probably holds African violets or is covered in dust in a closet. Canned baked beans taste nothing like homemade ones. But making authentic baked beans takes a day-plus of precious time whereas, in our hurried, harried world, opening a can takes just seconds - and so no contest for most folks.

But there is a delicious alternative, one that takes a mere 30 minutes and tastes nearly as good as the old-fashioned way of baking dried beans for hours. All you have to do is buy good- quality canned white beans and simmer them with the ingredients that give slow-baked beans their mellow and zesty flavor.

Good-quality canned beans are clean-tasting and firm. They remain whole during cooking without turning mushy. If you are concerned about your sodium intake, keep in mind that organic brands usually contain far less sodium compared to conventional ones. In any case, all canned beans should be rinsed and drained before using.

For baked beans, both great northern beans and tiny navy beans work well. In the following recipe, using good-quality ketchup is important. Grade B maple syrup, the least expensive kind, adds depth to the final taste. Although traditional recipes call for bacon or salt pork to achieve a smoky flavor, Spanish paprika, which has a slightly smoky flavor as well, is a far more healthful option. Sold at some supermarkets and specialty stores, it is also easy to find on the Web.

Skillet Baked Beans - Makes 4 servings. (3 3/4 cups)

* 1 Tbsp. canola oil
* 1 large onion, finely chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 2 cans (15 oz. each) great northern or navy beans, rinsed and drained
* 1/3 cup ketchup
* 2 Tbsp. brown mustard
* 1 tsp. smoked or sweet paprika
* 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
* Pinch of ground clove
* 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
* 1 Tbsp. unsulfured molasses
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until soft, 1 minute longer.

Add the beans, ketchup, mustard, paprika, ginger, clove, maple syrup and molasses. Stir in 1 cup water and mix ingredients to combine well. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the liquid thickens and the beans resemble baked beans, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Per serving: 354 calories, 5 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat), 64 g. carbohydrate, 17 g. protein, 11 g. dietary fiber, 317 mg. sodium.

The Author:

“Something Different” is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) offers a Nutrition Hotline online at www.aicr.org or via phone 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday, at 1-800-843-8114. This free service allows you to ask questions about diet, nutrition and cancer. A registered dietitian will respond to your email or call, usually within 3 business days. AICR is the only major cancer charity focusing exclusively on how the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food and nutrition, physical activity and weight management. The Institute’s education programs help millions of Americans lower their cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. Over $82 million in funding has been provided. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

Article Source: Aicr.org

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