Smokey Beans and Maple Syrup
Makes about 1 quart of beans.
Time requirement: About 2-2½ hours. It is something to do on a day you plan to be home in the kitchen or doing other chores.
What you will need:
2 cups great northern beans.
3 quarts water.
1 tablespoon kosher salt.
2 tablespoons loose leaf lapsang souchong tea placed in a cotton sachet or tied in cheese cloth.
¼ cup maple syrup
1 small onion
Bring the water to the boil. Then and add salt, tea, and maple syrup and continue to boil one minutes while stirring. Then turn off the heat and allow the brine to steep for 15 minutes.
Remove the tea. Bring the brine back to the boil.
In the meantime, cut the ends off the onion and stick the onion with 2 cloves. Add the onion to the boiling brine. Now add the beans to the brine and stir. After the brine and beans return to the boil, turn off the heat, and cover the pan.
Leave the pan covered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, return the beans to the boil and cook for 1 hour covered. Check on the beans every 10 minutes to make sure they are at a soft boil and covered by liquid. If needed, add a little boiling water. After an hour add one quart of boiling water (or vegetable or chicken stock, it is your choice) and cook an additional 30-60 minutes until the beans are tender but el dente.
When done the beans should have a slight smokiness from the tea, a sweetness from the maple syrup, and a slight floral quality from the cloves.