Shiitake mushrooms are the secret ingredient in these vegan baked beans--even meat lovers won’t miss the bacon! The best part is the beans require no soaking, just a slow cook in the oven until tender, sweet and spicy.
Place the dried mushrooms in a medium bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water, make sure each mushroom is submerged. Let steep for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the liquid. Roughly chop the steeped mushrooms and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers and chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are slightly softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the tomato puree, bourbon, molasses, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, bring to a simmer and cook to combine, about 3 minutes. Add the beans, vegetable broth and reserved mushroom liquid. Raise the heat to high, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and bake until the beans are tender, about 3 hours.
Uncover and increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake until the sauce thickens and the beans on top begin to brown, about 30 minutes.
If at any point you notice too much liquid has evaporated from the beans during baking and you prefer them saucier, stir in water until the desired consistency is reached.
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