A Lovely Pot of Christmas Baked Beans

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I have a ragged binder propped on my shelf filled with recipes my family loves. We call it our “tried and true” binder, because we only put recipes in there that have been successful time and time again. One of our favorites is a simple, sweetly comforting baked bean dish that my son requests like clockwork every winter. This year, he’s asked for it as a rustic component of our Christmas dinner, and I’m more than happy to oblige.

Winter Baked Beans

(*Note: The beans need to soak in water overnight; and the dish takes about 5 hours to bake, so plan accordingly. I like to make this recipe several days ahead – it always seems to taste better that way).

1 pound dried pinto beans

10-12 bacon slices, cut into ½” pieces
2 cups low-salt chicken stock
6 cups water
1 cup finely chopped yellow or white onion
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper

Place beans in a large bowl. Add enough water to cover by 3 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain beans and set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cook bacon slices in a heavy large pot until crisp. Add beans (yep, don’t drain out the fat!) and all remaining ingredients to pot. Bring to boil.

Transfer pot to oven. Bake uncovered until beans are tender and liquid thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5 hours. Remove from heat and serve; or cover and chill (bring beans back to a simmer before serving).

Makes 8-10 side dish servings