Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Boston Legacy

Baked beans can be a sublime treat ... if prepared correctly.  First get yourself a real crockery bean pot (as above).  Then buy two packages of dried navy beans (they're cheap).  Next pour both packages of these beans into a copious amount of cold water ... sorting through them for small stones and damaged beans.  Change this water one or two times to remove all the dried-bean processing detritus.  Then cover and place them in a cool spot overnight.  In the morning change their water once again, drain them, and fill your bean pot to about 3/4ths full ... discarding the remainder.

Now add to this bean pot:
- one medium-sized onion, finely diced
- a teaspoon each of dried mustard and salt (It is actually safer to add the salt later in the cooking process ... in added water ...as this early addition can sometimes make the beans tough-skinned.)
- a good pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg ... and a small pinch of minced cloves and dried ginger
- a quarter cup each of black-strap molasses, ketchup, and dark-brown sugar
- a good splash of the juice (and spices) from a jar of sweet-mixed pickles

Next add cold water to this bean pot until the beans are just covered ... and stir well.  Cut a pound of sliced bacon in half (across the slices) and place one half part on top of the beans.  Place a small piece of aluminum foil on top of the bean pot before you replace the cover (to reduce its moisture loss).  Put the bean pot in a slow oven (about 250 degrees F. for six to eight hours ... checking every hour or so to keep its moisture content up.  You might be able to skip the last addition of water as you don't want the final result to be too juicy.

Serve with baked ham, knockwurst, or barbecue (chicken, pork, or beef brisket), a tossed salad, and crusty bread.


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