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Boston Baked Beans

Posted in : Old New England Recipes on by : Michael Marsha Tags: , ,

Boston Baked Beans

When I was a kid, my grandmother had a cast iron stove in her kitchen. My grandfather would bring up a bucket of coal from the basement and Gramma would stoke up the fire. Of course, this would just happen on a cold winter night.

Then, Gramma would get down her bean pot and mix up the beans. They would go into the oven shortly before they went to bed. In the morning you would wake up with the marvelous aroma of baked beans and a warm kitchen.

Today, the beans are cooked in a crock pot or in a slow oven.  The aroma is still there, but in my opinion, there’s always something missing with that warm kitchen.

Originally, baked beans were made by the Native Americans along with their cornbread. When the Pilgrims landed in 1620, the Indians taught them how to make the beans their way.

The triangular trade of slaves in the 18th century helped to make Boston an exporter of rum, which is produced by the distillation of fermented molasses. It was at that time, molasses was added to local baked bean recipes, creating Boston Baked Beans. In colonial New England, baked beans were traditionally cooked on Saturdays and left in the brick ovens overnight. This was done so that on Sunday people could have a hot meal and still comply with Sabbath restrictions.

As time wore on, baked beans, frankfurters and brown bread became a typical Saturday night supper.  I can remember having it many times. Today, I still do it.

Boston Baked Beans

  • 1 pound dry beans (navy beans, soldier beans, Great Northern beans, etc.)
  • 3/4 pound salt pork
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

Wash the beans in a colander or strainer; pick over the beans to remove any pebbles or debris. Put in a large saucepan and add water to cover the beans by an inch. Soak overnight.

In the morning, bring the beans to a boil. Boil until the skins break when you blow across a few beans on a spoon. Place a layer of beans in the bottom of a crockery bean pot. Score the salt pork, cutting through the pork but leaving the rind intact. Place about 1/2 pound of the salt pork in the pot. Add most of the remaining beans and water. Place the remaining 1/4 pound of salt pork in the pot. Cover with the remaining beans. Add the molasses, brown sugar, salt, and mustard. Cover with additional water. Place the lid on the pot.

Bake in a 300 degrees F oven for at least 6 hours, adding water as needed. You may want to use a drip pan under the pot in the oven – just in case.

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