Baked beans are popular additions to summer barbecue buffet tables. Although classic Boston-style baked beans are in a tomato based sauce and sweetened with molasses, this French Canadian version is more delicate in flavor and seasoned with pure maple syrup, a staple in all French Canadian homes. Navy beans or any white beans are soaked overnight and slowly baked in a low oven or in a crockpot with onions, mustard and bacon. This is my mother Pierrette’s recipe but a little of my research has discovered that virtually all Québécois baked bean recipes are almost identical and go back to the 19th Century. Such longevity is a strong testimonial to how delicious these beans are! A favorite of traditional French Canadian hearty breakfasts, a side of these beans is enjoyed in the morning. For breakfast recently, I served them with fried eggs and a spicy sweet potato hash to my husband who raved about the sweet-spicy combo. Adding some sautéed greens and serving the beans over grains turns them into a meal. Economical, versatile and easy, they feed a crowd or can be frozen for later use. Take your summer entertaining north of border this year with fèves au lard (pronounced fev-o-lar) and watch them vanish to rave reviews.
Maple~Mustard Fèves au lard
1 pound of dried navy beans (cannellini or white kidney or a mix of them can be substituted)
water to soak and to cook in
8 oz thick cut bacon or salt pork, finely diced
1 T dried mustard
1 t salt, or more to taste
1/2 t black pepper, or more to taste
2/3 c maple syrup
Place the beans in a casserole and pick through and discard any broken beans or stones. Cover the beans with cold water and soak overnight, at least 8 hours. Add water to keep the beans covered, as needed. Drain the beans.
In A Dutch oven or the bowl of your slowcooker, place the beans and add enough water to just cover the beans, about 2 1/2 cups. Stir in the onions and bacon. Whisk together the maple syrup and seasonings and pour over the beans. Mix well. Cover.
If using the crockpot: Cook on low for 8 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings.
If using the oven method: Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes on the stove top. Drain. Add more water to just cover the beans. Mix in all the seasonings. Transfer to oven and bake with a cover on , at 275 F oven for 3 hours. Taste and adjust seasonings. The oven baked version will be a little more golden in color and it is how my mom always makes them.
For the best flavor, baked beans are best served the day after baking them.
If your travels take you to Montréal this summer, here is where you can try authentic fèves au lard: