boston baked beans
Salads & Side Dishes

Boston Baked Beans {A Family Recipe}

Boston Baked Beans

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 ~

Ingredients…

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.

boston baked beans

Pre-oven

boston baked beans

1 hour mark

boston baked beans

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

Boston Baked Beans ~ a family recipe

Libby with Lemony Thyme
These slow baked beans will transform your house. At the three hour mark your house begins to fill with that sweet smell of sugars and molasses dancing with the smokey salt pork. At the 5 hour mark you reach the point “when aroma becomes flavor and you know something amazing is happening.”
4.50 from 2 votes

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions
 

  • Soak beans overnight in 8 cups cold water with 1 tsp. baking soda.
  • Drain.
  • 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.

Notes

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.

16 Comments

    • libby

      Hi Lynn. Yes, absolutely. Your Le Creuset will work fine. Cook covered and add cooking liquid as needed. I check mine every hour. You are going to love these. Please share how they turn out. Take care, Libby

  • lorraine

    the reason you put baking soda in with the beans is to take the fart out of the beans..My great-great grandma told me this…also she used some small lima beans added to the navy….

    • Sweetie Pie

      5 stars
      You got this gas thang correct, Sistah Lorraine! We ate A LOT of beans at our farm home in TN. If we had it, we would also add a sprig of Rosemary to the long bake in our Baked Beans; after 5-6 hours you remove the stem and the “leaves’ simply stay. We would use fatback or other trimmed off piece of pork – waste not/want not – but usually the preserved salt pork was what came handy. This would be a dish we put in the back oven (usually the wood stove) while we worked in the fields. When we came in at the end of the day to wash up and set the table to get ready for the men to come in, a skillet of cornbread usually completed the meal – plus Sweet Tea (made with saccharine for our diabetics), of course. With other bean dishes as ‘sides’ a table was not “well set” without a bowl of chopped yellow or Vidalia onions & cucumbers in vinegar, sliced tomatoes out of the garden, and chow chow or whatever pickles were available; a glass of buttermilk, Sweet Tea or cistern water (if the well was low) and we all ate our fill.

      • libby

        Sweetie Pie that’s a wonderful description of good farm living and fantastic homemade cooking (and eating). Thank you for sharing.

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