Ok, a bit of a departure here for me, but it is the time of year when baked beans are very popular, at least with me.
My grandmother made baked beans and always brought them to every family gathering. I loved them, and I asked her to teach me how to bake beans. I wanted to make sure the tradition of baked beans would continue in our family.
This is what she taught me (recipe to follow): but here are a few things that you will need but I do think some folks make baked beans in a crock pot – seems like cheating to me, so I will stick with the old fashioned method and tools:
Ok, I am not one of those famous tv celebrity cooks, just a dub in the kitchen, but I can manage and I have a couple of dishes in my resume, baked beans being one of them.
Here are the ingredients you will need:
State of Maine Yellow Eye beans (2 lbs.)
1 cup of molasses
1/2 cup of Vermont maple syrup
1/2 pound of salt pork
1 medium onion
2 tsp of dry mustard
a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper
To start, the night before you plan to cook, soak the 2 lbs. of yellow eye beans in the beaner/roasting pan overnight in water. Make sure you submerge the beans as they will soak up some of the water overnight so I like to have a good inch of water over the beans when I start them soaking.
The next morning after the beans have soaked overnight change the water in the beaner/roasting pan and put the pan on the stove to start the beans par boiling. The beans will be ready when you can take a few in a spoon and blow over them and see the skin on the beans blow back or sort of peel off the bean. Now you are ready to move to the bean pot and get your beans ready to bake.
I start by taking the medium onion, peeled, and then I put it in the bottom of the bean pot. Next, I transfer the drained beans from the beaner/roasting pan to the bean pot.
Now, I take a small mixing bowl and add the maple syrup, molasses, dry mustard, and salt and pepper. I like to use this heavy ceramic glass bowl or a nice pottery bowl would work too. I start some water boiling in a tea kettle on the stove and add some boiling water to my mixture of molasses, maple syrup, dry mustard, and spices in the mixing bowl. This will make the mixture more liquid so I can pour it over the beans waiting in the bean pot.
Now, I take my half pound of salt pork and score the rind with a sharp knife taking care not to cut all the way through the rind. I make a checkerboard pattern of scoring (about 1/2 inch squares) on the rind. I like to choose a leaner piece of salt pork at the store for this – be fussy, it’s ok.
I place the scored piece of salt pork, rind side up on top of the beans in the bean pot. Now, I am ready to add more hot water from the tea kettle to submerge all of the contents in the bean pot. This is important – make sure you add enough water to submerge everything in the bean pot. It will be baking in the oven for about six hours and you may need to add more water later on to keep the beans from boiling dry at the top of the bean pot.
You should now be ready to put your bean pot in the oven and start the beans baking at 300 F. for about six hours. It will be worth the wait, believe me. Your kitchen will fill with the most delicious smells while the beans are baking. Check on the beans after about three hours and every hour after that to make sure they are not boiling dry at the top of the bean pot – add more water if you need to. The last hour of baking I will take the top off the bean pot and this helps them to brown.
Ok, you might like to get some brown bread (comes in a can) to warm and have ready when you serve your beans. Not everyone likes brown bread but I do, especially with lots of butter. Use real butter, not the fake stuff – this is real food here so real butter, ok.
One last thing, my grandmother, by the way, she was French Canadian and my bean pot comes from Canada, cautioned me not to get carried away with the Vermont maple syrup – just the 1/2 cup as in the recipe. She said too much sugar will make the beans mushy so be careful here and stick with the 1/2 cup of maple syrup. You also are getting some sweetness from the molasses.
Alright, I think you will be happy with this recipe. I love these baked beans and I hope you do too.