Sunday, January 23, 2005

IMBB 11 - Bob's Boston Baked Beans

The following is my brother Bob's contribution to IMBB 11 ...

This recipe is the one my mother used almost every Saturday while we were growing up in the sixties and seventies. Typically accompanied by hot dogs (or, on special occasions, baked ham) and a carrot and pineapple lemon jello salad (!), baked beans were an integral part of my childhood food experience. They cooked all day long after my mother put them into the oven around eight or nine in the morning. By late morning and for the remainder of the afternoon until dinner the downstairs of the house smelled of their rich aroma. We ate them with some ketchup on top. The salt pork was set on the table in a small dish with a butter knife and a few slices of white bread for spreading (amazingly delicious and, I am sure, tremendously cardiotoxic.).

In recent years I have rediscovered this recipe and make it in my beautiful bean pot I found in a Maine antique store. It’s a wonderful thing to make when you know you are going to be at home for the day or only out for short jaunts. I have stuck to 250 degrees as the baking temperature and find they generally don’t need any added water until after about four hours. I generally haven’t bothered to take off the lid at the end either (you don’t eat the pork rind anyway, or I don’t at least). The water certainly needn’t be all evaporated either. The rich brown sauce the beans swim in is delicious. They keep for at least a couple weeks as leftovers, but you may need to add water. It makes for a salty meal and you wake up parched, but it’s worth it!

I recently asked her which relative this recipe came from and to my surprise she told me she got it from the package of beans! Subsequently, I discovered I had in my possession the actual cut out from the box. But, unfortunately, there are no identifying marks on the small square of cardboard to assign credit.

With respect to the ingredients, considering the age of the recipe and sticking with my mother’s routine, I use regular granular salt (who knew about Kosher salt back then?) and even use the powdery ground pepper you get in a small rectangular can and cannot notice a problem not having used “fresh ground.”

There are numerous such baked bean recipes with some variations, some requiring only four hours at about 350 degrees, but the day long process and their aroma filling the house are as important to me as the final product.

In the end the more you eat, the better you’ll feel. So eat beans for every meal! Especially on Saturday.

Boston (aka New England) Baked Beans


1 pound dried small white beans
½# fat salt pork
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Hot water (approx 2 cups)

Inspect the beans, wash, cover with cold water and soak overnight. In the morning drain, cover with fresh water and parboil 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place beans in a New England style bean pot (or covered casserole, 2 ½ to 3 qts) and pour mixture of the above ingredients (except pork) over them. Place pork into bean pot so that only rind is exposed. Pour additional water if necessary over beans to cover. Put on lid and place in slow oven 250-300 F. Bake about 8 hours. Once every 2 hrs add water if necessary to just cover. Towards the last of the cooking the water should be well absorbed. For the last ½ hour remove the lid that the rind may become brown and crisp. Serves 8.


Dave said...

Thanks Cathy. I'll definitely be giving this a try. I love baked beans and the recipes are all subtly different. This one looks great.

Kelli said...

Mmmmmm... growing up in Maine, these were certainly a staple in my childhood diet... baked beans with some Bakewell Cream biscuits -- Saturday night supper! I thought about making them for this project, but was out of town (in "Beantown," believe it or not!) most of the week and needed something quicker. I'm glad someone "filled in!" I can almost smell them from here...

Anonymous said...

I'm not really anonymous---I'm Aunt Gail! And I, of course, made Boston Baked Beans every Saturday night of my married life (still do) as my grown kids will attest to! When they come to visit, they still want them, and of course, with hotdogs! My recipe varies (my original recipe,which was my grandmother's, came from the old Fannie Farmer Cookbook) in that I add a fair sized onion, chopped, and I use brown sugar rather than white. Now that I have an "empty nest" I've reduced the recipe considerably and use a small, one serving bean pot, which is enough for the two of us. Took awhile to get the proportions right!

Rusty said...

Yeah, this is the real thing! We add an onion fried til translucent, use brown sugar, instead of white, and a squirt of catsup, salt and pepper. Our bean pot is exactly like yours! My Grandma must have had the same bean recipe, just tweeking it over the years! Thanks!