I’ve had a lot of baked beans in my life (read: from a can), but I’ve never made baked beans from scratch. What kind of a Bostonian am I? A crappy one, I guess.
Number 68 on Food & Wine’s Top 100 Tastes to Try in their January issue was heirloom beans. In fact, I’ve been hoarding several bags of heirloom beans from local Moraine Farm (sold as Baer’s Best), just waiting for the perfect winter’s day to make them. That day was yesterday.
I picked money beans from the stash. Not because I thought they’d make me rich or anything. They’re just pretty. Pretty and, you know, maybe potentially lucrative. F&W’s accompanying recipe for maple-glazed beans enticed me, if only because of the half-pound slab of bacon nestled in there. (This might be a good time to mention how much I LOVE the maple-cured applewood smoked bacon from North Country Smokehouse in New Hampshire.) But, wait, we’re talking about beans.
This recipe takes freaking forever. I looked it over beforehand and saw the overnight bean-soaking part, and the 1-hour boiling part, and even the 3-hour baking part. But, I didn’t see the additional 1½-hour baking part. Nor the subsequent 1½-hour baking part. Someday, I’ll learn to read. Seventeen hours later, we were ready to eat.
Anyway, I’m posting the recipe because it’s just what Boston baked beans ought to be, and I aspire to be a good Bostonian, someday. One who doesn’t get lost in JP, or at least not trapped in a never-ending series of loops between those confounded rotaries. The same goes for Roslindale. Ditto for anyplace in crashing distance of the Big Dig.
Will anyone make this recipe? I doubt it. But, at least, I’ll feel like a good Bostonian by comparison. Until I need to borrow your map.
It doesn’t matter whether you use heirloom beans here or not. You and the beans you walked in with will be heirlooms by the time you’re done with this recipe.
1 lb. dried beans (like yellow eye, navy beans, or money beans), soaked overnight and drained
1 small onion, cut into wedges ½-inch thick
2 small bay leaves
½ pound bacon, fat side scored
½ cup pure maple syrup
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dry mustard
¼ cup ketchup
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Don’t forget to soak your beans overnight. I mention that up there, right next to the beans, but maybe you have the same reading problem I do. In a large pot, cover the beans with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, skimming occasionally, until the skins loosen, about 1 hour. Reserve 4 cups of the cooking liquid, and then drain the beans.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Transfer the beans to a 10x13-inch baking dish. Stick the cloves into a wedge of onion. Nestle the onions, bay leaves, and bacon, fat side up, among the beans. In a bowl, whisk 2 cups of the reserved cooking liquid with the maple syrup, Worcestershire sauce, dry mustard, ketchup, and half of the salt. Pour over the beans and bake for 3 hours.
Stir the remaining 1 tsp. salt into 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Pour over the beans, stirring gently if certain areas are browning too much, and bake 1½ hours longer. Whisk the remaining cooking liquid with the Dijon mustard and pour over the beans. Bake another 1½ hours until richly browned. Let stand 15 minutes. Discard the cloves and bay leaves.
Source: Food & Wine. Recipe by Marcia Kiesel.