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Amelia Islander

'Tis the Season for Boston Baked Beans

Sep 26, 2014 02:00AM
Autumn has finally arrived and we have a tradition in our family where we must make a batch of real Boston Baked Beans, from scratch, every September. Boston Baked Beans take about five hours to bake in the oven, so they are not something you want to make in the middle of summer, but once fall arrives, we make a pot of beans and invite our friend over for a traditional Sunday dinner with ham or roasted chicken. But no matter what we serve for dinner, the Boston Baked Beans are always the hit.

Here are a few keys to success: when you buy the beans, be sure to check the expiration date on the bag. You want to get the freshest beans because old beans will not get tender, no matter how long you cook them. The other key to perfect beans is to cook them in water until they are completely tender, but not mushy, before you bake them with the other ingredients. If the beans are still even a little bit hard, the sugar and salt will make them harder. Another tip is to make sure you check the beans while they are cooking, stirring them now and then and adding extra water to keep them moist.

Boston Baked Beans

Ingredients: 1 lb. navy beans 2 quarts water 8 oz. salt pork, cubed 1 medium onion, chopped ½ cup molasses ½ cup maple syrup ¼ cup dark brown sugar 1 tablespoon brown mustard 2 teaspoons salt ½ teaspoon black pepper

Preparation: Soak the beans in water overnight in a large pot. The next morning, bring the water and beans to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer until the beans are tender, about one hour. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking water, and place the beans in a deep casserole dish or bean pot. Add the remaining ingredients, cover the dish with a lid or foil, and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 4-5 hours, or until the beans are soft and the sauce is thick. During the cooking time, remove the lid now and then to check on the moisture content. Add reserved bean water as needed to keep beans moist as sauce develops. The cover can be left off completely the last hour or so, which will make the sauce darker and richer.