Voyageur Maple Baked Beans by joturnerillustration

Winnipeg, Manitoba, CA


Years ago, I had my first taste of slow cooked, French Canadian-style baked beans. It was what I’ll call a time stopping gustatory experience. It was mid February, cold as heck and I was on a journalism school assignment to report on the sights and sounds and all to be savoured at Festival du Voyageur....for those of you not familiar.....this annual festival is unique to my hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It all happens in our fantastic French Quarter, Saint-Boniface and is the largest winter event of its kind in Western Canada. Voyageurs worked for fur companies transporting goods by boat between trading posts. Voyageur, Métis and First Nations histories are celebrated amid happy fiddles playing, people jigging, hearty laughter, twinkle lights, bonfires, evergreens and delicious, traditional food (split pea soup, sugar pie|tarte a sucre, maple candy hardened in snow, tourtiere|meat pie, and that’s just the start!). Back to the beans. They had been cooked for hours in an old school clay bean pot by a man with a waxed moustache wearing a humongous fur hat. The navy beans were warm, tender and delicately starchy. The hunks of salt pork adding just enough unctuous, meaty flavour. But the crowning achievement of the dish was its beautifully sweet and savoury sauce. Glorious in its simplicity, it stuck fast to every bean creating an amber-hued sheen over every morsel. It’s February next month, right? My tum is rumbling.