Sunday, February 8, 2009

Guest post: Boston baked beans

I have a highly fairweather legume aversion-- chickpeas are wrong on all counts, but burritos need refritos and far be it from me to refuse lentil stew. So this isn't my recipe for baked beans...these come from my good folks up north, watching out for the fate of this dear blog. If you want to write a guest post, please do! I'll post it. I actually really like the idea of having all my friends' recipes, like one of those old postcard recipe rolodexes but online.

Steve's Baked Beans

This is a recipe for the kind of people who like to cook things overnight. I know, not a category you even knew existed. Aside from a peculiar desire for nocturnal baking, you will need a piece of oven-proof crockery that can hold a little over half a gallon. With a cover. It's gotta have a cover.

My crockery is official: it says "Boston Baked Beans" on the side, and came with a little tag with a recipe. We got it at a hardware store in Boston's North End. (It don't get more authentic.) This is that recipe, altered somewhat.

You'll also need to set your alarm for something like 4 am. I hope you're good at two things: getting back to sleep in the middle of the night, and functioning with oven mitts and hot things in the middle of the night. If you fail on either count, this ain't the recipe for you. This is serious business, bean cookery. Muffins it ain't.

So, you've got your crockery, and you've got your one pound bag of dried beans. Didn't I mention the beans? Soldier beans or Jacob's cattle beans if you like your bean to bite back. Pea beans if you like the canned kind from B&M that you could chew without teeth. If you can get beans from the State Of Maine company, or Kennebec Bean company, then you're advanced-intermediate, and well on your way to achieving my life's ambition of at least once cooking Bean-Hole-Beans.

1 lb bag of beans
1 onion, quartered
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1 tbsp coarse mustard
1-2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt

Sort out the beans. This is important, because once in a while there is a rock about the size of a bean that escaped the eagle-eyed ladies at the State of Maine bean company, and though this is serious business and I like a bean that bites back, a rock is something else again. Pull out the measly looking beans, too.

Put the beans in a big steel pot, cover with two inches of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes or so on high. Remove from heat and drain. Rinse. (If you're the kind of person who likes a recipe that lasts almost 24 hours, you could do the long method: set beans to soak at sunrise, under two inches of water. At 10pm, drain and rinse. I like multi-day cooking, myself, but I rarely have the forethought.) Draining the water and rinsing gets rid of most of the gas-producing stuff.

Turn the oven to a hair below 250. Peel and quarter the onion, and put it in the crockery along with the mustard, butter, salt, and molasses. Pour in the boiled (or soaked) beans. Fill up the crockery with water, two inches or so above the beans, or to just below the rim.

Put the whole mess in the oven. Go to bed, or whatever else it is you do at night other than baking beans. Wake up at 4 am or so, or whatever time is about 6 hours after you tucked in the beans. Pull out the crockery (careful!), uncover, and give the beans a bit of a stir with a big spoon. They should be a little dry on top, but with liquid just under the first layer of beans. Taste a bean. It should be creamy & smooth, not grainy. If it's grainy, add boiling water to cover, crank the oven up to 350, and put the crockery back in. Wait until the oven hits 350, turn it off, and go back to bed. If the beans are creamy & smooth, turn off the oven, splash just a little water in, put the crockery back in the oven, and go back to bed. In either case, they'll be perfect at breakfast.


Rachel G. said...

lily, i want to be a follower of your blog! i think you need to enable that feature though...

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