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Baked beans

Baked beans is a dish containing beans, sometimes baked but, despite the name, usually stewed, in a sauce. Most commercial canned baked beans are made from haricot beans, also known as navy beans – a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris in a sauce. In Ireland and the United Kingdom, a tomato and sugar sauce is most commonly used, and they are commonly eaten on toast or as part of a full English breakfast.

The beans presently used to make baked beans are all native to North America and were introduced to Italy in 1528 and to France by 1547.The dish of baked beans is commonly described as having a savory-sweet flavor and a brownish or reddish tinted white bean once baked, stewed, canned or otherwise cooked. According to alternative traditions, sailors brought cassoulet from the south of France or northern France and the Channel Islands where bean stews were popular. Most probably, a number of regional bean recipes coalesced and cross-fertilised in North America and ultimately gave rise to the baked bean culinary tradition familiar today.

While many recipes today are stewed, traditionally beans were slow baked in a ceramic or cast-iron beanpot. A tradition in Maine, USA, of "bean hole" cooking, may have originated with the native Penobscot people and was later practiced in logging camps. A fire would be made in a stone-lined pit, allowed to burn down to hot coals and then a pot with eleven pounds of seasoned beans would be placed in the ashes, covered over with dirt and left to cook overnight or longer. These beans were a staple of Maine's logging camps, being served at every meal.

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