Despite being born outside of the United States, I’ve never particularly thought of myself as foreign.

I was five when we immigrated, so I very much grew up American. We didn’t eat a ton of traditionally Russian food when I was young—I think we gracefully transitioned into the 90s with Hot Pockets and Rice Krispie Treats like the rest of you—but there were certain American foods that I’ve just never had a taste for.

Baked Navy Beans With Pancetta | Things I Made Today

Exhibit one: peanut butter. I did not like peanut butter my entire life, up until a year ago, when Jason bought some for Theo and I decided to give it another shot. And what do you know, peanut butter is totally delicious, I was an idiot, and have been missing out on peanut butter toast with thinly sliced apples and/or pears drizzled with honey for 30 years. My mistake, and I take full responsibility.

Exhibit two: jello. No comment.

Baked Navy Beans With Pancetta | Things I Made Today

Exhibit three: baked beans. The sweet, gooey kind. I’ve tried, on numerous occasions, to get behind baked beans, and despite my best efforts, I just still can’t eat them. Beans are not meant to be sweet (unless they’re made into some Thai dessert in which case, yes, would eat that).

This week, the weather has been nasty (read: heavy, freezing rain) and if it wasn’t for taking Theo to daycare, I probably wouldn’t have left the house. I wanted something substantial, filling, flavorful to eat. Something to get my mind off the fact that it’s only mid-January and winter isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Baked beans, I thought. But not the sweet kind.

Baked Navy Beans With Pancetta | Things I Made Today

Starting from the dry beans is an absolute must for this recipe—you just won’t get the same texture or flavor with canned beans. But this recipe really is pretty simple. Soak, cook, and drain the beans. Mix them with pancetta and some aromatics, sprinkle them with cheese and breadcrumbs and bake them until they’re crispy.

Baked Navy Beans With Pancetta | Things I Made Today

This is how baked beans are supposed to taste. Get your brown sugar out of here.

Baked Navy Beans With Pancetta
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
For the beans:
  • 1 cup dry navy beans, soaked overnight
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 1 Parmesan rind (optional)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
For the rest:
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ⅓ cup gruyere cheese
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅓ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
Instructions
  1. Drain soaked beans and place into a large heavy saucepan. Add ½ onion, Parmesan rind, whole garlic cloves, bay leaf, and salt. Add water and cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until beans are soft and tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, cook pancetta until the fat is rendered and it starts to get crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel lined plate. Set aside.
  3. Add thinly sliced onion, minced garlic, and shallot to pan. Cook on medium until onions have started to caramelize, adding additional olive oil if needed, about 10 minutes. Add wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until liquid mostly evaporates. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. Drain beans, reserving about 1 cup liquid, and remove Parmesan rind and bay leaf. In a large bowl, combine beans, pancetta, cooked onions and shallot, thyme, gruyere, freshly ground black pepper, and reserved cooking liquid. Stir until combined, then transfer to a 9 by 5 inch bread pan or equivalent.
  6. Mix breadcrumbs with olive oil and sprinkle on top of beans. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the top is a nice golden brown. Let cool slightly before serving.

Recipe adapted from March 2015 issue of Bon Appetit.

Did you count down from 10 and stay up past midnight last weekend?

I did, and yes, I’m consider that an accomplishment. Our fabulous friends Gracie and Andrew threw their second annual New Year’s Eve party—I’m rolling my eyes hard at the fact that I just used annual as a description of a New Year’s Eve party, but bear with me—and I, with the help of Sarah from Wisconsin From Scratch, got to make a not-so-unreasonable amount of hors d’oeuvres for the party. Everything turned out delicious, and with the exception of my fallen gougères, everything looked like perfection too.

Skillet Phyllo Pie with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese | Things I Made Today read the rest »

Tap, tap. Hello, is this thing on?

Hi, it’s me, I’ve been hiding under a rock for the last month. And by hiding under a rock I mean I haven’t had more than 5 minutes of free. What is it with December and events and colds and work and holidays and errands and travel and canning 134 jars of jam. I’ve literally cooked nothing but apple butter and cranberry lime curd. We’ve been ordering in, eating out, at our parents’ houses, or just eating raw carrots for dinner. I joke, but seriously.

Seriously Orange Cake | Things I Made Today read the rest »