Grand-Maman’s French-Canadian Baked Bean

I have a special treat for you all today!

Phil Wilson from Baconhound has recently started a very interesting new project for his blog called the Community Table Project. He is the brains behind the YEG Pizza Odyssey and the YEG Burger Odyssey, which pits some of the best Edmonton restaurants’ specialities against one another. The Community Table Project takes a different journey through YEG’s food scene. Through this project, Phil wants to feature recipes that are important to the Edmonton home cooks that create and cook them. I was scrolling through Facebook the other day when I came across this video, describing the project. I just had to participate. And what better recipe to share than my Grand-maman’s French Canadian Baked Beans?

My Grand-Maman was an incredible woman. She was orphaned in her teens and being the only girl in a traditional French-Canadian family of five, she was responsible for taking care of her brothers in every way after her parents passed: cleaning, washing and of course, cooking. Being from St. George de Beauce, Quebec (pretty much as down-home French-Canadian as they come), she cooked a plethora of traditional French Canadian recipes: Pudding Chomeure, Tarte au sucre, tourtiere and cretons. She went on to create an incredible, large family legacy of Canadiens-Francais with my Grand-Papa (My extended family is now 61 strong!). I am so proud to be able to share one of her signature recipes with you today.

DSC_0515Many French-Canadian Baked Bean recipes call for salt pork. When I picked up some bacon ends from Irvings at the Strathcona Market, I asked them about that. They told me that salt pork was essentially illegal, unregulated bacon. Well, since I wasn’t going to make my own bacon for this recipe, Irving’s high-quality, Berkshire bacon ends would do the trick quite nicely.

DSC_0517Using my cast-iron skillet, I crisped up the bacon ends.

DSC_0518Next, I made the liquid that the beans would be slow-cooking in. Very simple, really. I used 2 tablespoons of dried mustard.

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Then I used 3/4 cup of maple syrup.

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Here are the delicious bacon ends, all crisped up.

DSC_0521Because I was making the recipe the day ahead, I combined all of the ingredients in a Tupperware, and popped it in the fridge.

DSC_0522Including the crispy bacon, of course!

DSC_0524Before turning in that night, I emptied a one-pound bag of white navy beans in a bowl.

DSC_0527Then I covered them with water and let them soak overnight.

DSC_0528In the morning, I drained the soaked beans and rinsed them off, then I combined all the prepared ingredients, beans and 6 cups of water into the crockpot.

DSC_0529Then I cooked them on low for 10 hrs.

DSC_0530Here they are at the end of the day. Saucy, sweet, salty, beany goodness. Taste them and adjust seasoning to your liking.

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Traditionally, this dish is prepared in a bean pot. I am so fortunately to have inherited my Grand-Maman’s bean pot. You can tell that this pot was well loved. The sealed ceramic is cracked from use and there are ancient burnt beans marks on the bottom of the pot.

DSC_0535Serve up the dish with a piece of bread, or serve for breakfast with a poached egg on top.

DSC_0532Enjoy!

French-Canadian Baked Beans (Fèves au lard)

You will need:

  • 1 lb bag of dried white navy beans
  • 1 pack of back ends from Irvings Farm Fresh (or one package of regular bacon)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1.5 tablespoons dried mustard
  • 6 cups water
  • 1.5 teaspoons of salt or to taste

Soak beans overnight in a large bowl with water. In the morning, slice bacon and fry in a pan. Dice onions. Combine maple syrup and dried mustard, and add to a crockpot. Add water and stir to combine. Add bacon, onions and beans. (You can make ahead by combining cooked bacon, onions, syrup and mustard in a large tupperware in the fridge and add beans and water to crockpot in the AM.) Stir to combine and slow cook on low for 10 hours. Once beans are cooked, add salt to taste.

To cook in a beanpot, preheat oven to 350 while preparing your ingredients. Cook at 350 for about 30 minutes, then lower the heat to 200 and cook for a total of 8 hours. Check and stir occasionally, and add more water if needed.

Serve with a slice of homemade bread, or for breakfast with a fried egg on top. Enjoy, with classic memories of Francophone Canada.
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Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes

I love tuna melts. They carry such an interesting flavour combination with their tuna, tomato and cheese combination of deliciousness. I was perusing the latest All You Need is Cheese Magazine, put together by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, and I came across a recipe for Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes. Instant inspiration!

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I didn’t have many of the items the recipe called for on hand, so I substituted them. These turned out so incredibly delicious, I am so happy with the variations!

DSC_0477First, make sure that your tomatoes are sitting upright. I used some larger tomatoes on the vine that I picked up at the Strathcona Market, so they sat upright nicely on their own. If you’re using any other kind of tomato, you can cut a thin slice off the bottom of each tomato. Then, cut the top off to create a large enough opening to stuff them.

DSC_0484Scoop out their insides and reserve the flesh and liquid.

DSC_0487For the stuffing, I used oats, Gruyere, onion, the reserved tomato flesh and liquid. Dice the tomato flesh and add the other stuffing ingredients. Add reserved tomato liquid to help soften up the oats.

DSC_0488Stuff each tomato and cover with the tops.

DSC_0489I baked the tomatoes on the grill, because it was waaaaay too hot in my house to even fathom turning on the oven. I grilled the dish on medium for about 20 mins (until the cheese was all melty and gooey).

DSC_0498We devoured these tomatoes right off the grill. They were so delicious!

Tuna Melt Stuffed Tomatoes (modified from All You Need is Cheese)

You will need:

6-8 large tomatoes (I used large on the vine, but beefsteak tomatoes would be perfect for these!)

1 can of tuna

1/2 cup Gruyere, cut into small cubes

1 medium onion, diced

3/4 cup rolled oats

If baking, preheat oven to 450. If grilling, preheat BBQ to medium-high. In both instances, line a large baking dish with foil.

Make sure that your tomatoes are sitting upright. If they aren’t, cut a thin slice off the bottom of each tomato. Then, cut the top off to create a large enough opening to stuff them. Scoop out their insides and reserve the flesh and liquid. Dice the tomato flesh and add to a large bowl. Add oats, tuna onion and Gruyere. Add reserved tomato liquid and mix well to coat. Stuff each tomato with filling and top with tomato cap. Bake on grill or in oven for 15-20 mins until the filling is very hot and cheese has melted. Serve right away and enjoy every last crumb.

*Tip: If you have any extra filling, bake alongside tomatoes in a separate dish and eat it right out of the pan.