About this blog...

Food has been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember. Food and the festivities surrounding its arrival to the table has always been a focal point in our family. For many years I have been amassing the cookbooks, recipe cards, cooking journals, diaries, manuscripts and clipping files of our once extensive family.

Personally, I’ve been professionally involved with food for over 40 years in numerous and varied culinary capacities across the country so I also have the collected stories, as well as current and on-going food-related experiences from my own life I’d like to share.

My idea has long been that someday I would bring all of this marvelous raw material together into a culinary journey through our family’s heritage. This journal is the beginnings of that journey.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Boston Baked Beans


I made a pan of Boston Baked Beans today.
As a New England boy, I grew up with these beans and, having just finished making about a year's supply of hotdogs (click here to jump to that post), Franks & Beans (maybe even with a side of Brown Bread - a dense steamed quick bread made with molasses and raisins) came to mind as a meal we needed to have soon.
I've made these so many times that I don't use a recipe but I can give you a rough description of the ingredients and process...
Yesterday I started soaking one pound of small white beans.  This morning I drained them, gave them a quick rinse and put them in a large pot filled with water to a couple of inches over the beans, brought them to a boil then simmered them, covered, for several hours until they were soft but not falling apart. There was still a good amount of water covering the beans at the end.
When the beans were ready I turned the heat up to high chopped about pound of home-smoked bacon (click here for more details) ends and scraps and added them to the pot along with a large chopped onion.
Once it was bubbling well I added (and these will all be very rough measures) about a cup of molasses, a cup of ketchup, a dollop of Dijon mustard, a cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup real maple syrup and a little salt.
After bringing it back to a boil, I poured the bean mix into a lightly greased 4" half hotel pan, covered it with plastic wrap followed by heavy aluminum foil (the plastic keeps the foil from getting corroded by the acidity of the bean sauce during the long cooking time), then popped the pan in the oven at 350F for a couple of hours.
After two hours I turned down the heat to 275F and continued baking the beans for another 3 hours.  You don't want the beans to get too dry or burn so checking part way through and adding more water if necessary.
The beans came out great.  Thick, rich and sweet with a nice smokiness from the bacon.
 

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