Quebecois Feves au Lard, or Maple Baked Beans

Guest Post from Diana of The Economical Epicurean

It’s no surprise that baked beans are a new favorite subject among food bloggers: they are incredibly cheap, laughably low-maintenance, and perfect for a summer barbecue or camping trip. I always marvel at how quickly they disappear from my table: true, they are delicious, but few would agree that they have much aesthetic appeal (the above photo is extremely flattering). In short, baked beans are easy proof that beauty is only skin-deep.

So many baked bean recipes riff on Boston baked beans, the kind made with molasses. But I would like to take you a little farther north of there and introduce you to a classic Quebecois staple known as feves au lard.

As you might have guessed, maple syrup replaces the molasses to give the beans that smoky-sweet flavor. I adapted my version from the wonderfully exhaustive Gourmet Cookbook, and found out from a little extra research that the recipe, almost word for word, dates back to the nineteenth century. You will no doubt understand this recipe’s longevity after you try it.

But don’t stop at the side dish — baked beans are great served over rice or barley or in a tortilla for a full meal. For some greenery, consider stirring in a half pound or so of chopped kale, collard greens, or spinach during the last 35 minutes of cooking. You really can't go wrong with these beans, so use your imagination (and perhaps use up the contents of your fridge while you’re at it).

For vegetarians and vegans, as well as those who want to cut back on meat or fat intake, I have also come up with a meatless version that is equally delicious. I compensate for the absence of meat by adding chili powder, which gives the dish a nice smoky flavor. As I was serving it one time, I accidentally dumped a big splash of the beer I had in my other hand into the pot. I cannot tell whether this happy mistake had much of an impact on the dish (it was a huge pot), but it may be worth a try!

Feves au Lard, or Maple Baked Beans
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook.

Serves 12-15 as a side dish. If you're cooking this for just one or two people, halve the recipe and you should have no trouble finishing it in a couple days.

1 (16 oz.) bag of dried navy beans, soaked overnight and drained (though not as true to the original, you can also use cannellini, kidney, or black beans -- or any bean that can hold up well to all that cook time)
1 slice pork fatback or 8 oz. salt pork
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1.5 t salt
1 t ground pepper
2/3 C real maple syrup
1.5 t dijon mustard
6 C water

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large dutch oven, stir together the beans, salt pork, onion, salt, pepper, syrup, and mustard. Add the water to the beans and bring to a boil on the stove, then cover and bake for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and bake for another hour or until liquid is mostly absorbed and top is browned and crusty. .


Feves au Lard (Vegan Version)

1 (16 oz.) bag of dried navy beans, soaked overnight and drained (though not as true to the original, you can also use cannellini, kidney, or black beans -- or any bean that can hold up well to all that cook time)
2 T chili powder
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 t salt
1 t ground pepper
2/3 C real maple syrup
1.5 t dijon mustard
6 C water

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large dutch oven, stir together the beans, chili, onion, salt, pepper, syrup, and mustard. Add the water to the beans and bring to a boil on the stove, then cover and bake for an hour and a half, stirring occasionally. Remove cover and bake for another hour or until liquid is mostly absorbed and top is browned and crusty.

Thank you for sharing, Diana! These look like a perfect summer potluck contribution; we can hardly wait to try them out.

Visit Diana's weblog:
The Economical Epicurean

Related: Recipe Roundup: Baked Beans

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(Images: Diana of The Economical Epicurean)

Per serving, based on 12 servings. (% daily value)
Calories
384
Fat
13.6 g (21%)
Saturated
4.3 g (21.5%)
Trans
0.1 g
Carbs
48.3 g (16.1%)
Fiber
19.1 g (76.2%)
Sugars
3.9 g
Protein
19 g (37.9%)
Cholesterol
13.6 mg (4.5%)
Sodium
21 mg (0.9%)