When you grow up in New England there are a few recipes that it’s good to have up your sleeve. In the case of Boston Baked Beans my mom not only had it up her sleeve but it was engrained in her memory. I’m eternally thankful that she took the time to write it down for me to share with generations to come.
Below is the tale of my first solo attempt at making Boston Baked Beans. Watching over me, I’m certain mom had a good laugh as I worked my way through.
~ Boston Baked Beans ~
4 cups dried navy beans *(found out the hard way that these are not the same as great northern beans)
1 lb. salt pork
2 small onions thick sliced
1 1/2 cups molasses
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbl. salt
**1 tsp. baking soda (for pre-boil – not sure why?)
Soak beans overnight in 8 cups cold water. Drain. Cover with 8 cups water and boil 1 hour with 1 tsp. baking soda. Drain and reserve cooking liquid. Brown salt pork in a hot skillet until very brown on all sides, then cut into small cubes. Combine molasses, brown sugar, mustard, paprika, salt & pepper. Put a layer of salt pork in bottom of bean pot. Add half the beans, another layer of salt port, and top with onions. Add remaining beans and onions. Pour in molasses mixture, then top with cooking liquid until beans are completely covered with liquid. Bake covered at 300 degrees for ***6 hours. Add liquid periodically if necessary just to cover. See special notes below:
* It took me two batches of soaking beans overnight and doing the one hour pre-cook (which each time yielded completely cooked beans – not good), before it occurred to me that mom’s recipe that called for “dried beans” should have been NAVY beans NOT great northern beans. Not that there’s anything wrong with northern beans but they cook more quickly. Thank heaven I wasn’t alone in this endeavor and my partner recognized a melt down in the making and ran to the grocery store for replacement beans.
** Mom’s recipe also calls for adding 1 tsp. of baking soda to the pre-cook 1 hour boil. I have no idea why. Which reminds me of the story of the daughter learning to make the family recipe for pot roast. Her mom coached her through seasoning the roast then instructed her to cut the end off before putting it in the pot. The daughter questioned that step and her mother replied “that’s the way my mom taught me to make it.” And so she called her grandmother and asked “why do you cut the end of your pot roast.” Her response, “because the pot was too short for the roast.”
*** Because I ended up using great northern beans – I had to adjust the cooking time accordingly. I only boiled for 30 minutes, then cooked for 5 hours at 300 degrees instead of 6 hours.
1 hour mark
2 hour mark
This is the point when your house begins to fill with that sweet smell of sugars and molasses dancing with the smokey salt pork.
5 hour mark
At this point “when aroma becomes flavor you know something amazing is happening.” Shared these at work today as we celebrated National Hot Dog Month. They were definitely worth the time and effort!!
Boston Baked Beans ~ a family recipe
- 4 cups dried navy beans
- 1 lb. salt pork
- 2 small onions thick sliced
- 1 1/2 cups molasses
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 1 Tbl. salt
- 1 tsp. baking soda for pre-boil
- Soak beans overnight in 8 cups cold water with 1 tsp. baking soda.
- Cover with 8 cups water and boil 1 hour with 1 tsp. baking soda.
- Drain and reserve cooking liquid.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Brown salt pork in a hot skillet until very brown on all sides, then cut into small cubes.
- Combine molasses, brown sugar, mustard, paprika, salt & pepper.
- Put a layer of salt pork in bottom of bean pot.
- Add half the beans, another layer of salt port, and top with onions.
- Add remaining beans and onions.
- Pour in molasses mixture, then top with cooking liquid until beans are completely covered with liquid.
- Bake covered up to 6 hours.
- Add liquid periodically if necessary just to cover.