Although these legumes were traditionally cooked low and slow in the oven, today's baked beans, as they're often called, are actually cooked on top of a stove for a faster preparation that doesn't compromise flavor. Shed even more cooking time by using canned beans — or save cash by rehydrating dry beans instead. Regardless of how you prepare this dish, bacon plays a crucial part in achieving a pronounced smokiness, while molasses and dark brown sugar add a sweet flavor and pleasing caramel color. Be enticed by both recipes.

Beginner Stovetop Beans

Beginner Stovetop Beans

Ingredients

1 16-oz. can pork and beans in tomato sauce
1 15-oz. can navy or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. maple syrup or packed brown sugar
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine pork and beans, navy beans, ketchup, maple syrup, and dry mustard.
  2. Bring mixture to boiling on grill side burner over medium heat; reduce heat.
  3. Simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until mixture reaches desired consistency, stirring frequently. Top with bacon.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 198, Total Fat (g) 2, Sodium (mg) 906, Total Sugar (g) 11, Fiber (g) 7, Protein (g) 12

Expert Stovetop Beans

Expert Stovetop Beans

Ingredients

1 pound dried navy beans, or great Northern beans
4 ounces salt pork, or thick-cut bacon
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons prepared yellow or Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
10 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

  1. Put beans in a large bowl; cover with cold water by 2 inches. Loosely cover beans with plastic wrap, and let soak at room temperature 7 to 10 hours.
  2. Drain beans; transfer to a large saucepan. Cover with cold water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, covered, until beans are very tender, about 1 hour. Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid; set beans and liquid aside.
  3. If using salt pork, trim meat from the rind, and cut meat into 1/4-inch dice. Score rind with a knife. If using bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice. Transfer salt pork (meat and rind) or bacon to a large Dutch oven or stockpot.
  4. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and meat is browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer meat to a large bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving rind and rendered fat in the Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic to the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in tomato juice, tomato paste, molasses, sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, turmeric, hot sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, the beans, and 4 cups reserved cooking liquid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover, and cook at a bare simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 1 hour. Uncover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. If not serving immediately, let cool completely, and refrigerate in an airtight container, up to 2 days. Reheat beans over medium-low heat before serving.

Makes about 7 cups.