Baked Beans… or Fèves sans lard

If you had asked me for a good Baked Beans recipe a couple of years ago, I’d’ve told you right off the bat that, in order to make GOOD baked beans, one must absolutely use the following 3 ingredients:

  • A nice, big chunk of pork fatback
  • Brown sugar, and lots of it
  • A fair generous amount of molasses

You see, here in Québec, we refer to pork fatback as Lard, and Baked Beans are called Fèves au Lard. Surely, one cannot make Fèves au Lard without using Lard, right?

Wrong!

Baked beans taste just as good without the lard, and probably even better, because they are not as “greasy”.

As for brown sugar and molasses, well, I now realize that using both adds way too much sweetness. The recipe I just came up with now only calls for ½ cup of blackstrap molasses and it’s plenty sweet if you ask me (and, well, I’ve always like my baked beans to be on the sweet side!) To think that I used to use at least a cup of each, and probably add a little bit more for good luck!! Sheesh, my baked beans must’ve tasted like dessert, back then.

Now some people will probably argue that, even without the added fat and sugar, baked beans can’t be that good for you because they have to cook for so long that it probably destroys all the good nutrients that are in the beans and veggies… There might be some thruth to that, but I think that if you use all good, healthy ingredients to start with, then they can’t be bad for you.

And you see, baked beans are NOT something that I am ready to void off my diet. I might not eat them all that often, but I’m still quite fond of them and they will always have that special place in my heart.

My love for baked beans comes to me from my dad. He didn’t cook all that much, but this is something that he’d like to whip up once in a while and when he did, the whole house smelled soooo deliciously good. It almost felt like Christmas to me. And I can’t tell you the number of times that I saw him grab a container of leftover baked beans straight from the fridge and dig right in, then exclaim with such a passion in his voice: “Is there anything better than baked beans, I ask you?”

Funny, he would say the exact same thing every time he’d have mashed potatoes. ;)

He was a great fan of  fatback though, so I’m not sure that he would’ve approved of this “lardless” batch of Fèves au lard. You should’ve seen how absolutely thrilled he was whenever he’d find a big, fat, juicy and jiggly morsel in his plate! Yewww, he might’ve liked it, but it always totally grossed me out. Sorry dad!

Anyway, I guess I’ll never find out whether or not he would’ve liked this batch, but my guess is he would’ve. Hey, they are baked beans, after all. And there is nothing better than baked beans, you know…

Say Dad, if you’re in the area… there’s still a little bit left in the fridge. Come grab a bite if you will, and let me know how you liked ‘em!

INGREDIENTS
(Serves 8-10 as a side dish)

  • 600g white beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried savory
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1 large can (798ml) whole tomatoes
  • ½ cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 tbsp old style grain mustard
  • 8 + 2 + 2 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Preheat the olive oil in an enamelled cast iron Dutch oven, (or other large oven safe cooking pot) over medium heat. Add the onion, apple, salt, pepper and savory and cook until fragrant and the onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add bay leaves, tomatoes, molasses and mustard. Mix well with a large spoon and break the tomatoes into smaller pieces.
  4. Add 8 cups of water and beans. Place in the oven and cook for a total of about 9-10 hours.
  5. Check back every couple of hours and add water as necessary, 2 cups at a time. You should need to add water after 4-5 hours and again after 6-7 hours. Feel free to add more or less, as necessary.
  6. Serve with toasted whole grain bread, if desired.

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Comments

  1. says

    dried savory?? I’m so embarrassed, but I’ve never heard of it! Since these MUST be made- is there anything you think I could substitute in for it just in case I can’t find it at the store?

  2. says

    These look so incredibly good to me right now. I occasionally get a craving for baked beans and I haven’t been able to find a good traditional recipe(minus the gross jiggly bits, haha. I totally agree – I was always grossed out by those!) I really can’t wait to try these, especially with the cooler weather we’ve been having :)

    • says

      Thank you Heidi. There is something quite comforting about baked beans, I find. Especially home made. Just their smell is comforting, so they are the perfect thing to bake on a cold autumn day, much like the one we are getting here today. I almost wish I had plans to bake beans today. ;) I hope you (and little baby) like my recipe. :)

  3. says

    I love beans!!! Had a similar idea for baked beans that I’ve been meaning to try! I bought dried navy beans two weeks ago and still haven’t made them – I want a HUGE bowl now, ahhhh!
    Drool…!!!!

    • says

      These baked beans were really good too! My daughter was very skeptical when she saw me add the apples, but she ended up liking them (it seems like I say that quite a lot, don’t I?) I think the apples were a very nice addition. I don’t think I’ll ever make baked beans again without adding the apples. Plus, I’m certain my dad would’ve approved of that! He looooved apples!

      Now, don’t tell me you had also meant to add apples to your baked beans, ‘cuz if that’s the case, I’ll serioulsty start making phone calls to see if maybe I didn’t have a twin sister that got kidnapped at birth or something! ;)

  4. Tina says

    These beans were good but if you don’t like spicy, omit the pepper totally (which I should have done) heartburn city all the way. But they were quite good, I cooked them at 350 for 2 hours then 250 for 2 hours (because the molasses started to smell like it was burning) then turned the oven off, left the beans in there, and after 2 hours I added brown sugar to sweeten it up and they were great!

  5. Help! says

    This recipe looks amazing so I decided to give it a shot… it’s been 6 hours and there seems to be WAY too much liquid (nevermind adding 2 more cups!)! It looks more like soup… tips????

    • says

      Do you have the lid on? I’d say remove the lid if that was the case! Are you beans nice and tender now or do they still need more cooking time? You could always remove some of the liquid and cook them for another hour or so… Also, the beans should get “thicker” after they cool down.

  6. Tina says

    I agree with Sonia, if they are tender, turn off the oven and let them rest without taking them out of the oven, it will absorb all the water.

  7. Josette says

    Had subscribed to your blog recipes a while back and this morning, I decided to check your website after seeing that you appeared to be fluent in French “Fèves jaunes et vertes”. What a nice surprise to see that you are also from my home town and that you have alternative recipe to “fèves au lard”.
    I live in Texas now and will soon be moving to FL so after I unpack the kitchen there, I promise to try many of the wonderful recipes you have such great pictures for. Questions: you wouldn’t have a healthy alternative to “les cretons du Québec? What part of Quebec are you from? Do you offer classes? I was born and raised in Ste-Foy and lived near la rue Cartier until I moved to Montreal in 1970. Thanks for the great recipes, and keep up the great postings!

    • says

      Hey Josette! Good to hear from yet another fellow Québécoise! I’m currently located in the Laurentians, but spend A LOT of time in Montreal, where I was brought up… and well, French would be my mother tongue, the “official” language that I speak on a day to day basis! ;)

      Glad you like my meatless, “porkfatless Fèves au lard” alternative. Unfortunately, I never really looked into making healthy cretons, as there is absolutely nothing healthy about them to start with! ;) I could eventually come up with some kind of a spread, but it would have no pork or pork fat in it whatsoever, therefore, it wouldn’t even be remotely related to cretons. Unless maybe I came up with Cretons de dinde, maybe? Hmmmm… here’s an idea. Just thinking as I type, here… I like that! I’ll definitely keep that in mind! Thanks for inspiring me! :D

      And thanks to YOU for subscribing and reading my recipes and sharing your thoughts. Without people like you, this place wouldn’t even exist. So yeah… thank YOU Josette! :)

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