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Mary Ann’s All-Day Baked White Beans With Bacon

This is one of my wife’s favorite recipes. We used to serve by the gallon at a school festival where she and I worked on a barbecue booth. There’s one problem with it: it takes forever to cook. But it needs very little tending, and it’s a great break from good old red beans and rice. This recipe makes enough for a big picnic or family gathering, but you can cut everything in half for a more modest serving. The photo shows rabbit, but we usually make this with pork loin or brisket.

Bacon and beans.

  • 2 lbs. small white beans (navy beans)
  • 1 lb. very lean, smoky, thick-sliced bacon
  • 1 16-oz. jar molasses
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Creole mustard
  • 1 tsp. savory (an herb found in the spice rack at the supermarket, also known as summer savory)
  • 1 Tbs. Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 Tbs. salt

1. Sort through the beans and rinse them, then soak them overnight six inches underwater in a pot.

2. Drain the soaking water and refill with water to an inch above the top of the beans. Bring the water to a slow boil and cook for about an hour–until the beans are no longer crunchy, but still firm.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

3. Fry the bacon until it curls, but is only crisp at the edges. Drain the bacon on paper towels.

4. Drain the beans well and pour them into a large baking pan or two. Add the bacon and all the other ingredients and stir well.

5. Cover the pan or dish with aluminum foil and place in the center of the oven at 325 degrees. Bake for about 30 minutes.

6. Heat a cup and a half of water in the microwave oven until steaming, but not boiling. Remove the foil from the beans, pour in the water. Continue baking at 325 degrees for four hours, stirring every half-hour or so and adding more hot water if the beans begin to dry out.

Serves 12-20.