Soak beans overnight in 9 cups water, refrigerated. Drain.
Bring to a boil in 9 cups fresh water. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until nearly tender, about 45 minutes.
Drain beans, reserving two cups of liquid (I save it all and use the remainder as a soup base). Combine beans and other ingredients in a 4-quart covered casserole.
Cover and bake at 250° F for 6 to 9 hours. If you are home, occasionally check after a few hours, and add a little bean liquid if necessary.
As the sauce develops, tinker with the seasoning if necessary.
Leave uncovered for the last hour or so.
Cooking time: 6 to 9 hours in 250° F oven; or up to 12 hours in a crockpot on lowServings: 8