|Maple & Apple Baked Beans with Cranberry-Walnut Bread, Green Leaf Lettuce Salad and Red Cabbage Coleslaw.|
With local Hudson Valley maple syrup in high production these waning winter days our thoughts at Cafe Drake HRV turn to desserts and, well, baked beans. Many recipes similar to ours employ molasses or honey as the sweetening agent but we've substituted maple syrup in the manner of Quebecois baked beans. The apples are a nod to local orchards here in New York state. We omitted the traditional bacon but lost none of the flavor by using both natural liquid smoke and smoked paprika.
Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. In a large casserole or gratin dish, mix together: 2 cans small white beans, rinsed and drained; 1 medium onion, grated or minced finely; 2 cloves of crushed garlic; 1 large tart apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored and diced; 2 T. coarse mustard; 2 T. maple syrup; about 3/4 t. ground mustard; a generous splash of apple cider vinegar; 2 T. tomato paste; 1 small dash of liquid smoke seasoning and 1 T. smoked paprika. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Mix very well. If you like a bit more of the liquid smoke, add it now. If the mixture is overly thick and stodgy, thin with a bit of water.
Cover the casserole with a lid or aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20-30 minutes or until the beans are bubbling and developing a light crust on top.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for around 10 minutes before serving hot or warm.