This global mash-up of a summer classic borrows the ideas of red lentils and maple syrup from celebrated Montreal restaurant Joe Beef and replaces the standard chili sauce with Korean gochujang for a bit of "what is that flavor?" flair.
4 ounces thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1/2-inch squares
1 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
5 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups water
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup unsalted ketchup
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red chile paste)*
1 1/2 cups dried Great Northern beans
1/2 cup dried red lentils
How to Make It
Heat bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook 8 minutes. Add onion, thyme, and garlic to pan. Cook 6 minutes. Add 5 cups water and next 6 ingredients (through gochujang); bring to a boil.
Place beans, lentils, and ketchup mixture in a 6-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 7 hours.
*If you don't have gochujang on hand or want to pass on the slight heat it brings, use tomato paste.
I almost didn't try this based on the reviews, but I had bought all the ingredients and I couldn't understand how this recipe could not be good given what was in it. I honestly feel like the ingredients give a delightful balance of flavor, BUT I did have to make a couple substitutions - I used regular,not low salt, ketchup and regular, not low salt, soy sauce because it was what I had. Also, I was short on the mustard powder (had 1 tbsp) so I added 1 tbsp on Heinz yellow ketchup to make up for it. I used fresh thyme from the garden, peeled the stems until it got monotonous and then just threw a handful in the pot. I used Annie Chun's go*chu*jung sauce (if brands matter). It does make a lot of beans though! I'm trying not to eat them all myself.
This recipe is a lot of work for something that doesn't taste much better than canned smoky beans. It does make a lot of beans. I used regular ketchup and only put in one tablespoon of the chili paste but put in double the garlic. It is very sweet. If I ever make it again, I would put half the amount of maple syrup and the suggested amount of chili paste. You use a dutch oven, you need more than one cutting board as you have to cut the bacon and you will use lots of measuring cups and spoons, and then you also get to clean your slow cooker. I also suggest throwing the fresh thyme in whole, (not chopped). I just pulled the stems out before serving.
The idea of using gochujang and red lentils seemed super exciting and fun. Followed the recipe as stated, beans were just the right consistency at 7 hours - which was amazing to me! Made a ton. A ton. The flavor just seemed to be missing just a little something, not sure what. We added some thai chili paste that we had and that made it more interesting, but definitely would not make it again.