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Root Beer Baked Beans: Liven Up a Classic Recipe

A few weeks ago, we cooked up some amazingly tasty root beer-braised ribs. They were so good, we made them again. Then I got to wondering about other foods that might be delicious with root beer, and it came to me–root beer baked beans. They were tastier then I could have imagined. With all the classic flavor notes of great baked beans, these have the added hint of distinctive sassafras and fresh ginger. Just the things to liven up an old classic. These root beer baked beans are easy enough for a weeknight dinner, and forgiving enough to be toted off to summer parties. Give ‘em a try!

Root Beer Baked Beans (adapted from Bon Appetit)

1 lb. navy or pinto beans, or approximately 6 cups cooked*
6 strips bacon
3 medium yellow onions
1″ section of ginger, peeled and minced
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 – 2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
pinch ground cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
18 oz. good root beer (1 1/2 bottles)
3 bay leaves

*To prepare the beans for this recipe, I soaked them overnight and cooked them covered over low heat for about 3 hours, until the beans are soft, but still have a bit of bite. Well-rinsed canned beans are also fine.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large dutch oven or other oven-proof pot, fry the bacon over medium-high heat. When bacon is browned, set it aside on a stack of paper towels. Add the onions, and saute in the bacon fat until translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, salt, chili powder, and cayenne, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the beans, tomato paste, vinegar, molasses, and mustard, and stir until ingredients are well combined. Stir in root beer and bay leaves. Bring ingredients to a boil, and crumble the prepared bacon on top.

Bake the beans uncovered for 20 minutes and stir. Bake for another 20 – 30 minutes until the beans are tender and are lightly browned on top.

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