legumes, little house cookbook

Baked Beans

These baked beans were a two-night project, mostly because I am not organized enough to plan my cooking 5 hours ahead of time. Interestingly, I was organized enough to pre-soak a few cups of navy beans overnight, but I completely lost track of time the next day. So I spent a quiet Sunday night doing the preliminary assembly, and raced home the next night to bake the beans all evening. This dish required commitment. And a LOT of water. These are high-maintenance beans, my friends.

ready for simmering

So, night one: after the beans were finished soaking, I simmered them in a new batch of water for 40 minutes and poured in half a teaspoon of baking soda, which sent up a nice fizz of bubbles when it hit the beans. Then the beans had to simmer for 30 more minutes, this time with 1/4 pound of salt pork thrown in for good measure. It felt a little like the beans were taking the best bath of their lives, and I was the attending servant. They ended their night in the refrigerator, stored in an enameled casserole dish.

Night two found two small onions and a green pepper joining the beans, as well as a drizzle of molasses. (Apparently the molasses helps the dish taste more like the baked beans we’re used to.) Then I stuck the whole thing in the oven and let it bake for 4 hours.

I have to be honest: this was not a pretty dish. It didn’t look like the baked beans I’m used to, all silky and deep red-brown. I’m almost afraid to show you the picture.

but this is for historical purposes, so i will include it

Even Josh thought I was weird for eating it. But what it lacked in beauty, it made up for in taste. Like the fried salt pork, these beans are to be savored in small quantities. I liked them best accompanied by a warm cheese biscuit and some fruit. If you’re looking for a hearty dinner that will last you all week, and you’re up for some front-work (and bean-attending), try them.

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