Denver Style Beans

My son James has gone through so many eating phases; only eating fruit, only eating items that have breadcrumbs on, only eating green vegetables! Lately he is crazy about beans! This does not make for a pretty nappy!

Below is a recipe from an old American cookbook. These Denver style beans are so tasty, pack a punch and a great way of getting protein into your little ones. It makes for a perfect side dish for Mum and Dad or loaded onto a spud.


Serves 6-8 adult sized portions

1 pound dried beans of your choice (I like cannellini, haricot & butter beans) 

6 cups of water

2 bay leaves

6 slices of smoked streaky bacon

1 cup of coarsely chopped celery

2/3 cup minced onion

1/2 cup diced (1/4 inch) green pepper

2 teaspoons fresh coriander leaves

1 garlic clove minced

1 cup of ketchup

2/3 cup light molasses

1 teaspoon mustard powder

Pinch of chilli powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch of black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Salt to taste



Rinse the dried beans and place in a bowl. Cover with cold water and leave to soak over night.

Preheat oven to 175c.

Drain the beans and rinse in several changes of cold water, drain again. Place them in a large heavy pot with the 6 cups of water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until the beans are slightly softened - 30 minutes. While they are cooking, skim off any skum that rises to the surface.

Meanwhile in a large frying pan over medium heat, cook 2 slices of the bacon until browned. Remove them from the frying pan, drain on kitchen roll, crumble, and set aside. Add the celery, onion, green pepper, coriander and garlic and cook over a medium heat, string occasionally, until wilted. Set aside.

Drain the beans reserving 1.5 cups of the cooking liquid, and place the beans and reserved liquid in a bowl. Discard the bay leaves. Stir in the cooked vegetables, bacon, ketchup, molasses, mustard, chilli powder, cumin, pepper and cayenne.

Place the mixture in a shallow baking dish, and cover with the remaining 4 slices of bacon. Bake uncovered until the beans are very tender, about 1.5 hours. Remove from the oven and season with salt. Once removed from the oven, the beans and sauce will thicken as they sit.



by claire spurling
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