Thursday, July 4, 2013

Boston Baked Beans

Last year for the Fourth of July, I got it into my head to prepare homemade Boston baked beans to go with our dinner. After consulting some cookbooks and internet sites, I found a recipe that sounded easy enough. The combination of ingredients were ones that we had on hand so I decided to give it a go. I do have to say that the end result was rather impressive, and I don't think I have opened a can of baked beans since. 
Ceramic bean pots

Baked beans can be regarded as an American dish given that the beans are native to North American. Traditionally baked beans were prepared in a ceramic bean pot that was set in a bed of embers near the edge of the hearth and allowed to cook for six to eight hours. Baked beans also tend to have a bit of a regional flair depending on the region of the country in which they are prepared. In northern New England, beans often are seasoned with maple syrup while in Boston, they tend to be seasoned with molasses. In the South, the addition of mustard gives baked beans a tangier taste. Baked beans were traditionally prepared on Saturdays. Because they were left overnight in the embers, they would still be warm for Sunday dinner the next day.

The following is a picture of the ingredients for preparing a batch of baked beans.


Ingredients

2 cups of navy beans (16 ounce bag)
1/2 pound pepper bacon (other bacon can be used; we particularly like the flavor that the pepper adds to the beans)
1 large sweet onion finely chopped
3 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar

Layered beans, onion, and bacon
  • Soak the beans overnight in cold water. Simmer the beans in the same water until the beans are tender. Drain the beans and reserve the liquid.
  • Layer the beans in a 2-quart casserole dish or bean pot alternating with the onion and bacon.
  • Combine the molasses, salt, pepper, dry mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and brown sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over the beans. 
  • Pour the reserved bean liquid over the beans until the beans are covered.
  • Cover with a lid or foil and bake at 325 degrees for 3 to 4 hours. About halfway through the baking time, remove the cover and add additional liquid if needed. 

Beans with liquid added
Beans with sauce added