How many times have I posted about a recipe I saw on 101 Cookbooks? I've lost count, but I can't help it. How can I ignore a recipe that not only gives me an opportunity to use my beautiful heirloom Borlotti beans from Rancho Gordo, but calls for delicious Belgian Lambic Framboise beer? To be honest, I was a little concerned that this might turn out quite sweet between the beer, the dried cherries, and the molasses, but I was pleasantly surprised by the flavor. The beer gave a tangy edge to the dish, and the hot pepper, smoked paprika, and dijon mustard rounded out a very complex flavor. The only thing I did differently was use some nice smokey kielbasa and its fat in place of the olive oil. I mostly did that because I had the leftover kielbasa, but I figured the smokey flavor would complement the dish well. A word of warning, I ended up having to cook this far longer than the 2 hours she suggests, but this may be because the Borlotti beans I used turned out to be much larger than your typical cranberry bean. I recommend giving yourself plenty of time and letting the beans simmer for as long as possible; it can only get better with time. Recipe after the jump:
BERRY BEER BAKED BEANS
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
2 cups dried cranberry, borlotti,or pinto beans, soaked over night
3 ounces kielbasa, diced
1 medium red onion, chopped
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups berry beer
1/2 cup dried berries and/or cherries, loosely chopped
2 cups light vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or more to taste)
fine-grain sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F degrees, and place rack in lower third.
In a large oven-proof casserole (I use my large Le Creuset Dutch oven), saute the kielbasa until it gives off a couple tablespoons of fat, then saute the red onion for a minute or so. Stir in the molasses, mustard, red pepper flakes, beans, beer, dried berries, and broth. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in oven for roughly 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until beans are tender. Every batch of beans is different, and they'll decide for themselves when they're done. After an hour or so, (carefully) check every 25 minutes to see how the beans are doing. When the beans are tender remove the pot from the oven. In the off chance they need more liquid during the baking process, add more broth (or water) 1/2 cup at a time. More likely, if the beans finish cooking before the cooking broth really thickens up, pull the pot back up onto the stove top, uncover, and bring the pot to a boil until the liquid has more body - usually 5 - 10 minutes.
Now it's time to season the pot. Stir in the smoked paprika and a few big, generous pinches of salt. Wait a minute and then taste, you definitely need enough salt and to make the flavors pop and to counter-balance the sweetness of the molasses and fruit - the smoked paprika helps balance in this regard as well.
A big pot - serves 8 - 10.