Saturday, 19 January 2013

Boston Baked Beans

File:Boston Baked Beans in Concord, Mass 2012-0193.jpg

Source for this image here.

This is what we are eating for our evening meal today - Boston baked beans, with taties (potatoes baked in their jackets) and some beautiful sausages, that Papa Bear and the cubs brought home from the shopping trip they did yesterday!  They didn't come from the supermarket, but from the organic butcher's that we have been using recently.  It's more expensive than supermarket meat - but oh so much nicer.  The animals are raised locally free-range, and are cared for and slaughtered humanely - and you can really taste the difference.  We would far rather eat a little of this good meat occasionally than the inferior supermarket meat more often.  And with the recent news article about horse meat being found in some supermarket meat products, we feel our decision to eat this way has been validated!
It was lovely to be so spoiled while my arthritis was so painful.  It's still troubling me, but not nearly as much as it was.  Outside the snow still lies not only on the ground, but on every tree and roof and fencepost and path.  It is so cold here at the moment - and more snow is expected tomorrow!  We've been wanting to eat lots of warming stews, bakes and casseroles - and today I promised everyone I would make Boston baked beans, to go with the delicious apple and wild boar sausages we got yesterday.

This is how I make Boston baked beans - it's my own recipe, adapted over lots of years.

You will need ...

About 4 cups of dried mixed beans (I know only haricot beans are used in authentic Boston baked beans recipes - this is my adaptation!)
1 can baked beans in tomato sauce 
1 large red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon molasses or black treacle
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
Hot water or stock to cover
Chopped bacon, lardons or belly pork (optional) 

This dish needs to be prepared the night before you intend to eat it.  If you don't have time, use only canned beans instead.

1.  Start by soaking your dried beans in a bowl of cold water overnight.  In the morning, rinse the beans, then place them in a large saucepan of boiling water and boil rapidly for 20 minutes (officially they only need 10, but I like to be absolutely sure and do 20 mintes).  Then turn down the heat and simmer for approximately 45 - 60 minutes - depending on how old the beans are.  When they are done, drain ready for use.

2.  When they are done, get your slow cooker out and turn it to hot or high to warm up.  While it is warming, chop the red onion finely, and the meat if you are using it.  Place these in the bottom of the slow cooker (you can grease it a little first but I never bother and nothing seems to stick).

3.  Add the cooked beans, the can of baked beans, the molasses or treacle, vinegar and mustard.  I sometimes also add a dash of barbecue sauce or liquid smoke.  Stir and then add enough hot water or stock (I prefer stock) to cover.  Put the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on hot or high for 6 - 8 hours.

I often serve this dish with sausages, or cornbread (not authentic, I know - but I'm planning to try this recipe as a side dish next time we have them!).

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