By Jeff Crump

This dish overlaps winter and spring. When the maple syrup is fresh, it is technically spring, but it’s still quite cool out. This is a big enough recipe to serve at a party, but the flavours develop overnight so it makes great leftovers. Makes 12 servings

2 cups dried black beans
2 cups dried white kidney beans
2 cups dried red kidney beans
2 dried whole chipotle chili peppers
1 pound double-smoked bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cayenne
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup pure apple cider
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
2 bottles (12 oz/340mL each) local dark beer
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a large bowl, combine black, white and red beans with 14 cups of water and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse.

In a large pot, combine beans with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until beans are softened, about 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine chipotles with 1 cup of boiling water and let steep for 30 minutes. Remove chilies from water, reserving the water, and finely chop. Set aside.

In the same large pot, sauté bacon over medium-high heat until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in beans, chipotles, reserved chipotle water, garlic, cumin and cayenne.

Reduce heat to medium and add brown sugar, cider, maple syrup, molasses and beer. Cook, stirring occasionally until beans are very tender, about 3 hours. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Excerpted from Earth to Table by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann. Copyright © 2009. Published by Random House Canada. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

Editor’s note: I made this delicious dish for our kids, Walker and Jillian, when they came home from university one weekend. Because Walker is vegan, I omitted the bacon and softened the onions in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. And unable to find dried chipotles at my local grocery store, I used 2 canned chipotles, a couple of tablespoons of the adobo sauce in which they’re canned, and the cup of water called for in the recipe. Finally, knowing that I’d be unable to tend the pot, I placed the covered, ovenproof pot of beans in a 325°F oven for the 3-hour cooking time.

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