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Baked Beans


Roger McShane
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Thanks John. I will have a look at Thorne's book. I am very familiar with cassoulet having spent lots of time in the Languedoc region.

I am more interested in this foray in those wonderfully flavourful bean recipes that reek of bacon or molasses. What I am trying to tease out is whether dishes such as Boston baked beans originated from the US or from native Indians or from Europe or from the Caucasian regions.

Roger McShane

Foodtourist.com

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It may not be ever possible to know the truth on this one. Dried beans lend themselves to long slow cooking, so there could be several independent sources. Most of the information I have seen makes the asumption that because one group of people prepare a similar dish, they must have had some influence on the evolution of Boston baked beans. It seems that the Puritan women developed the dish as a way of providing a high energy food without any actually food preparation on the Sabbath. Many Jewish dishes are made using the same philosophy, but that doesn't mean that there was any direct Jewish imput (this is just an example, I have no idea if there is any Jewish imput into BBB).

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As it happens, I am planning to make baked beans today - or maybe tomorrow.  I am soaking some Great Northern beans in water.  I will boil them up, then put them in a casserole with a mix of tomato ketchup, tomato paste, molasses (certainly!) and maybe a little stock.  I will make up the proportions as I go along, in my usual unscientific way.  Minced oniuons?  Possibly.  Some strong smoked bacon I happen to have.  I also throw in some part of a pig which will help make things unctuous - doesn't really matter if it's a foot or a tail, and I picked up a chopped-up tail for about a dollar in the supermarket yesterday.  Bake slowly for a long time, checking flavor and seasoning periodically.  (Yes, I'm great at writing recipes, aren't I?).

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The version I'm familiar with includes burying an onion in the crock of beans, and the addition of a piece of salt pork, scored to expose the maximum surface area and placed on top of the beans.  The pork is seasoned with a mixture of brown sugar and molasses, and spices, and melts or permeates the beans as the dish slowly cooks in the oven.  When the dish is finished, what you have is a great crock of baked beans topped with a crisped and browned piece of salt pork that's the icing on the proverbial cake...

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  • 2 years later...

anybody got a good recipe for making a large volume of baked beans? (A gallon or so?) Please give more detail than Wilfrid's post. Also, what kind of crock should I cook them in? I don't have a slowcooker. I do have a Lodge dutch oven. And I'm near Bridge Kitchenware which sells all sorts of earthenware crocks that look like they'd be good for baked beans.

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Get into the magic of adding a can of stewed tomatoes to a can of original sytle baked beans...

It cuts the sticky sweetness that baked beans can have, and really brings it up to something exceptional...

Home made bean recipe, even better... maybe...

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I always understood the origin of baked beans was from sailors: food that could be prepared from ingredients that could be stored on ship. Also they can be cooked well in tins, or cooked in a bread oven after the bread has been baked.

I have a recipe adapted from a leaflet from Durgin Park in Boston. Its quite a shock to those used to the tinned tomato sauce version:

2 lbs beans

1 lb salt pork

8 tbs sugar (too sweet for me, more like 2tbs)

2/3rds cup molasses

2 tsp dry mustard

4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 onion

Soak beans ovenight. Next day parboil for 10 mins with a tsp of baking soda. Run cold water through and drain. Dice salt pork and rind in inch squares. Put in pot with the onion. Put beans on top. Mix other ingredients with hot water. Pour over beans. Cover. Put in 300F oven for 6 hours. Add water to keep beans moist as required.

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The recipe I use for baked beans is from some Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the 1950's. It rocks. You take two big cans of Pork 'n' Beans and layer it with 3/4 cup brown sugar and about a teaspoon of dried mustard, mixed. Then you top with 8 slices of bacon, cut into pieces, then 1/2 cup catsup. Bake at 325 or so for a couple of hours. Yeah, it's lazy and "non-foodie", but damn, it's good. I often also add just a dash of "instant minced onion" to complete the equation.

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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Well...according to Jeff Smith ("The Frug")...

"During tough times in the very early days, the colonists in New England practically lived on salt pork and beans. The beans were brought with them from England and proved to be a wise solution to the problems offered by cold New England winters. There are many variations on this basic dish, and I suggest that you begin with some variations of your own."

If anyone is interested in the recipe, I'll be happy to post it.

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My mom makes baked beans that everyone raves about, and the recipe is from the user's manual to our first microwave, which was built-in to the new kitchen in the house I grew up in, which was built in 1974. It uses nearly exactly the same recipe. You just dump ketchup, mustard and dried onion and a couple of other things along with a couple of cans of baked beans into a big glass caserole dish, nuke it, and voila. She never cooked anything else in the microwave, but she still does it this way.

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I'm tellin' ya. Sure, maybe it starts out with "open two cans of pork & beans" but the recipe I posted will yield baked beans that everybody will love. Hey. Don't knock it 'till you tried it. Everything in the world isn't cassoulet. :D

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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I hold my fathers baked beans recipe as the gold standard to this day. Unfortunately I don't have an exact recipe, and I'm sure he never did either, but it included the following:

A ton of bacon sauteed in a big stockpot till the fat was rendered

A lot of red beans

a full jar each of honey and ketchup

some chopped onions

a bit of garlic

some crushed pecans for texture

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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some crushed pecans for texture

Now that sounds pretty damn interesting, actually. Pretending for a moment that my sister isn't deathly allergic to peanuts, do you just add the nuts straight or do you toast them first?

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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It is a fairly small amount, and I'm not sure if he toasted them or not, I never actually sat through watching the entire process, just enjoyed the end results, and have never attempted the feat on my own.... I should ask.

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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Smoked pork hocks!! ( rock)

You got navy beans, pinto beans, lima beans, black eye pea and a host of others, or are you taking about Boston style beans like John is talking about?

steve

Cook To Live; Live To Cook
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I read somewhere that it’s suspected that it was an adaptation of a British recipe using pork & dried peas. The reason it came about was because at the time of the founders, Boston (UK) was a major trading port, and one of its big exports were dried beans incidentally. Obviously the founders of Boston (USA) were originally from Boston (UK), so they probably ate quite a few beans, and cured pork was a staple in England anyway. I think the molasses entered into the scheme of things because of Boston (USA)’s relative proximity to the Caribbean, and because the Gulf Stream made it an effective port of call- hence cheap molasses for the Bostonians.

It should be born in mind that Britain was a great trading nation back then, and the colonists were expected to buy British. So it’s my contention that it’s an adaptation of what the settlers would have eaten back home, unfortunately I can’t back this up with any scholarly research, but the facts point in my favour.

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  • 3 months later...

Tonight we had pork chops with white bean puree and truffle oil.

gallery_13038_284_1101734527.jpg

It got us thinking about all the ways to fix pork and beans. What are some of your favorite versions?

Edited by Susan in FL (log)

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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I had some tasty 'Cinghiale' when in Pietrasanta, near Lucca in good 'ole Toscana. It's a rare breed of pig, and the cutlet was marbled and the fat rendered and almost crisp. Not even really unctous.

But I digress.

The pork was served with a side of cannelini beans. Boiled in stock, drained and tossed in EVOO, S+P. Incidentally, the pork was grilled on an apple/grapevine fire and brushed with a rosemary bush soaked in oil.

Soooo tasty. The beans were tender and you could mash 'em to soak up the pork juices.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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