Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Boston Baked Beans

First, a shameless plug: Remember last week's mouthwatering recipe for Morel-Barley Risotto with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Peas? If so (and you agree with the "mouthwatering" part), will you take one minute right now to head over to Marx Foods' Morel Recipe Challenge and vote for me? I'll admit the other entries sound fantastic! And there's even something in it for you! Go now and get a coupon code for 10% off your order of fresh morels, not to mention all the creative recipe ideas. The polls close on Friday, so don't delay! And THANK YOU!

On to the beans: In case you're more interested in all the beautiful spring produce (and spring weather!), we're getting now than in NCAA hockey, let me say just one quick thing: GO EAGLES!

The hockey team of my awesome alma mater just won the national championship, so I'm celebrating with some Boston food! Believing in the power of food and drink to influence sporting events, I made some awesome lobsta rolls, as well as these beans, to eat during the qualifying round, and what do you know? Straight to victory!

Boston baked beans have an interesting history and are easy to make. If you're not convinced that homemade beans are a million times better than canned, just try these (do a comparison if you must!). A crock pot makes it so easy and frees up your oven or stovetop. You can also make it a day ahead so the flavors have extra time to mix and mingle. Boston baked beans are perfect for a summer (or spring!) barbecue, not to mention a hockey tourney.

Are there any B.C. alums out there reading this? Give me a shout out in the comments!

Boston Baked Beans
Traditionally, these are made with navy beans (small white beans), but preferences vary—I used easy-to-find pinto beans.

Serves 6 to 8

1 lb. dried pinto beans
1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3-4 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs. dry mustard powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar

Rinse beans and pick over. Place in a large Dutch oven or saucepan and add water to cover by 1 to 2 inches. Bring to a rapid boil and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and soak 1 hour. Rinse and drain beans.

Place beans and remaining ingredients in crock pot. Add water to cover by 1 inch (about 7 cups). Cook on low 4 1/2 hours or until beans are tender (cook times vary WIDELY depending on your crock pot, as well as the freshness of the beans, so keep an eye on things if you've never cooked beans this way before). If too much liquid remains when beans are finished (very unlikely, but just in case) transfer to Dutch oven and simmer until reduced to your liking. Keep in mind that liquid will thicken slightly as it cools. Season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. I like to make these a day ahead so liquid has time to thicken and flavors develop, but it’s not necessary.


Joanne said...

I adore baked beans! These look incredibly delicious.

From one morel contestant to another - good luck! Your dish looks awesome.

The Recipe Diva said...

You got my vote! I love making my own beans but I have to admit, I start with canned white beans. Next time I will do the real deal!

baby cribs said...

I am really amazed when people bake the beans in a real deal. They make it so delicious.

Mark Scarbrough said...

No BC alumnus here--but also, no cayenne, you sly dog, in MA cuisine. Still, looks divine--as always.

Julie said...

I'm convinced I need these. I love that you make them in the crock pot.

Tv Food and Drink said...

Never thought about baked beans, but I've got the crock pot, and a hungry boyfriend, so why not?? I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks!

Debbie said...

I am baking these beans for dinner club tonite to go with Texas ribs, etc. and am leaving them home alone while I drive to Waco for lunch. Got the recipe from Mark Scarbrough. I'm using my new slow cooker. Old one is too small and I've been looking for an excuse to buy one. Will let you know how they turn out! May have my neighbor check on them for me . . .4/24/10

Julie said...

Debbie: Sounds like a good plan. Honestly, if you keep the slow cooker on low, it should be able to go for quite a few hours. I guess I'd just emphasize that slow cookers vary a lot when it comes to cooking times. I hear this from EVERYONE, so recipe times are guidelines, rather than absolutes. I hope you enjoy these.