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Baked beans are a classic dish with many regional variations, ranging from the savory Brazilian feijoada to sweet Southern baked beans served at barbecues across the United States in the summertime. They are relatively easy to make, and many people like to dress their baked beans up with variations to make the flavor more interesting and appealing. Since beans are high in protein, baked beans can be an excellent source of nutrition, especially for vegetarians.
To make baked beans, you will first require some dried beans. Haricot beans are a common choice for baked beans, but you can use any type of beans, including kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, and so forth. Some cooks like to mix multiple varieties of beans; should you choose to do this, take care to select beans with similar cooking times, or cook the beans separately to ensure that they are cooked all the way through.
Once you have chosen your beans, measure out three cups and rinse them in a colander and pick through them to remove any remaining vegetation or rocks which may have been harvested with the beans by accident. Then, cover the beans in water and allow them to soak overnight. This will soften up the beans, allowing them to cook faster. After they have soaked, bring the water to a boil, stir the beans, and then take it down to a simmer. Cook the beans until they are soft and falling apart, adding water as needed, while you think about ingredients that you may want to add to the beans.
For something like feijoada, saute one onion, several cloves of garlic, hot peppers, and two bell peppers in a large pan, adding a tablespoon each of dried cumin and coriander along with salt and pepper to taste. Add these ingredients to the beans when they are almost done, along with one cup of orange juice and a half cup of sherry. Chunks of browned meat such as bacon or sausage are also traditional in feijoada.
For sweet baked beans like those common in much of the United States, simmer the beans with one cup of brown sugar, one quarter cup molasses, a chopped onion, one tablespoon mustard, salt, and two cups of tomatoes or ketchup. Precise measurements of ingredients vary, depending on personal taste, and you can also add things like pineapple chunks, apple cider, corn, salsa, balsamic vinegar, and collard greens for variations on the basic recipe.