In White Fang, beans are a popular companion to fresh salmon. Although it’s easy enough to buy a can of baked beans and call it a day, I decided to make them from scratch. After all, anyone hiking through the Alaskan wilderness would probably want something heartier than just plain beans. This recipe by The Cozy Apron stood out to me because:
- Many of the ingredients are things the characters could have had with them on the trail.
- It has bourbon, and you can’t tell me those arctic explorers wouldn’t jump at the chance to add THAT to their beans.
- It has bacon, which needs no justification.
The final result was smoky, sweet, and salty—a side dish that would stick to your ribs on a cold Alaskan night.
P.S. The beans need to soak overnight and then simmer for 4 hours after the cooking process starts, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time.
Arctic Trail Bourbon Baked Beans
“Henry was bending over and adding ice to the babbling pot of beans when he was startled….He straightened up in time to see a dim form disappearing across the snow into the shelter of the dark.”
— White Fang
- 1 lb dried great northern beans, soaked overnight
- 5 cups chicken stock (you may need to add a little extra as the beans cook, so be sure to have more on hand)
- 1/2 white onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 generous pinches of salt
- 4 generous pinches of pepper
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 3/4 cup bbq sauce (go with a robust flavor—sweet varieties like maple brown sugar can make the final product too sweet)
- 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 pinch paprika
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp molasses
- a generous drizzle of olive oil
- 1/2 lb cooked bacon, chopped into bits
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp bourbon
Makes approx. 8 servings
- Drain the soaked beans and pour them into a large pot. Add all the remaining ingredients except for the bacon, syrup, and bourbon.
- Stir until well combined and cook on high heat. When the beans start to boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and partially cover the pot.
- Allow the beans to simmer for 4 hours, stirring every 10 minutes or so to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan (since it’s cooking for so long, any sauce stuck to the bottom can burn). You may need to add another cup of stock if the beans absorb all the liquid but are still hard.
- When the beans are tender and the sauce is thick, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
- Serve to your fellow explorers as you take a break from blazing new trails in the Alaskan wilderness.