Bacon Maple Baked Beans
1 lb. navy beans
8 oz. thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-in. wide strips
2 c. diced onion
1 c. chopped Granny Smith
1 c. maple syrup (preferably grade B)
2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
Prep Day: Sort through beans, discarding any stones or weird-looking shriveled-up beans. Rinse beans, then put them in a large bowl or pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Set aside overnight at room temperature.
Serve Day: When ready to cook beans, drain them and transfer to an enameled Dutch oven or large ceramic bean pot and set aside.
In a heavy skillet over medium-low heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until barely crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate; blot with another paper towel and add to beans, along with onion and apple.
In a medium bowl, combine maple syrup, mustard, salt and pepper. Add mixture to beans, stirring to combine. Add enough water to cover beans by 1/4 inch. Cover casserole and place in oven.
Heat oven to 300 degrees and bake until beans are just tender but not mushy, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, checking about midway through and adding water if beans are becoming dry; they should always have at least a small amount of water covering them during this stage. Uncover casserole and bake an additional 30 minutes longer.
Remove from oven and stir beans, poking most of bacon (which tends to float to the top) down into beans so only a few bacon pieces remain on the surface. Bake an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours; beans should be moist but not runny and should be somewhat browned on top.