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New England Baked Beans with Bacon Crust

from I Love Bacon! by Jayne Rockmill
New England Baked Beans with Bacon Crust

1 pound dried navy beans or white beans (see Note)
1 medium sweet white onion, quartered, plus 2 cups diced sweet white onion
1 Large carrot, halved, plus 1 cup diced carrot
1 head garlic, split, plus 3 cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane grater
1 bay leaf
1/2 sprig rosemary
2 sprigs thyme, chopped, plus 2 whole sprigs
1 tablespoon salt, plus more for seasoning
5 medium tomatoes, seeded and quartered
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup water
2 cups cubed smoked bacon (1 by 1/2 by 1/2-inch batons)
1 cup diced turnip
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup molasses
1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer
12 (1/4-inch) slices flat pancetta
1/4 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Crusty bread, for serving

Serves 6

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in I Love Bacon!
by Jayne Rockmill from Andrews McMeel Publishing


Place the beans in a large stockpot, cover them with water, and soak overnight. The next day, drain off the water, rinse and drain the beans, add them back to the stockpot, and add the quartered onion, halved carrot, and split head of garlic. Cover the mixture with cold water, add the bay leaf, rosemary, and 2 sprigs of thyme, place the pot over medium heat, and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are tender. Remove and discard the vegetables and herbs, stir in 1 tablespoon of salt, then transfer the beans, with their liquid, to a large dish to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300°F.

In a mixing bowl, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, chopped thyme, and some salt. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the tomatoes are slightly dried out. Set aside, and increase the oven temperature to 325°F.

Place the 1/4 cup of water and the smoked bacon in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat to render the bacon, 7 to 9 minutes. When the bacon is rendered, transfer it to a tray and remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Add the diced onion to the fat and cook over medium-high heat until the onion begins to color, about 5 minutes. Add the turnip and diced carrot to the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add the celery and grated garlic and cook for 3 minutes longer. Give it a good stir, season with a little salt and black pepper, add the molasses, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the beer. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon beans, with liquid, and tomatoes. Reduce the heat to mediumlow and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes.

Line a casserole dish, or ideally a bean pot, with the pancetta slices. Do this by placing the narrower end of the slice into the pot and draping the thick end outside of the pot. Carefully pour the beans into the pot, then fold the ends of the pancetta slices over the top, overlapping each piece. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the top and place the pot, uncovered, in the oven. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until the top is crispy and browned. Serve hot with crusty bread.

NOTE: The beans must be soaked overnight, so you'll need to plan accordingly

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