Saturday, January 23, 2016

Eddie's Favorite Boston Baked Beans

My Dad loved baked beans, and for him, they had to be baked beans or nothing at all.  It's the Boston thing, you know?  His mother grew up in Canada and came to the US shortly before she married, and she knew her way around a bean pot.  I grew up eating Boston baked beans on Saturday nights, usually accompanied by baked ham with pineapple sauce, and occasionally with a steak, but never, ever with franks. My father loved hot dogs, but they were a quick lunch and not dinner, at least not in our house. My Dad had a few culinary quirks and three were that he enjoyed baked beans as an accompaniement to fried eggs and toast on Sunday mornings, beans on toast, and as a sandwich filling on Mondays.

When I married, I began experimenting in the kitchen, and adapting tried and true recipes to my husband's taste and mine.  My kitchen is full of all kinds of crazy gadgets, and I enjoy adapting recipes to the different gadgets I own, too.  My Dad loved my baked beans, and he confided to me that they were better than my mother's, and his mother's, too, so this recipe is a winner, for sure.

I first made baked beans the old fashioned way, baking them in the oven in my mother's bean pot. Then I got a crock pot, and I adapted the recipe. Then I got a stove-top pressure cooker and adapted the recipe again.  Now I have an electric pressure cooker (an InstantPot) which cooks at a lower pressure than the stove top pressure cooker I have, and I need to adapt the recipe yet again.

Today is the seventh anniversary of my Dad's death, and in remembrance of his delight in sniffing the air and saying, "I smell BEANS! Someone must love me!", I made Boston Baked Beans in the InstantPot.  I may play with the recipe a bit more because they came out a little too juicy, but I will update this page when I do.

My Dad's favorite uncle, Uncle Amedee Gallant, used to make a fantastic variation which we simply called white beans, in which he substituted maple syrup (the real thing - the guy made his own maple syrup up there in Plaistow, NH) and white sugar for the molasses and brown sugar. He upped the mustard, too and added a couple of bay leaves.  He used to cook his beans for 24 hours on top of his woodstove in his knotty pine man cave that he built himself. Sometimes he used bacon instead of salt pork.  I really loved Uncle Mede and his cooking. Yum.

If you have time to soak the beans, you can make them in a crock pot or bake them in the oven.  If you are using unsoaked beans, you will need to use a stove top or electric pressure cooker.

If you can't find salt pork, or don't want to use it, you can use 8 oz of raw bacon, sliced into 1/2 inch bits.  You could use a ham bone or sausage or ham hock, and it would be delicious, but very different from Boston baked beans.

Different ways to initially cook the beans, prior to adding the ingredients:
1. Soak overnight, then:
     a.  cover with water and boil on the stove till the skins pop
     b.  pressure cook according to your cooker's instructions

2.  Unsoaked, dry beans can be pressure cooked, using your pressure cooker's instructions

Boston Baked Beans

1 lb or 3 Cups small white beans, such as navy beans

1 very large onion, chopped, at least 1 C
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 - 3 tsp dry mustard
3 Tbs ketchup
1/3 C dark molasses
1/3 C brown sugar
8 oz salt pork cut into 1" cubes

Wash and pick over the beans.  Precook as above.  Drain.

Retutn beans to pot. Add all other ingredients plus water. Stir well and cook as below.

Old Fashioned way:
Drain precooked beans and put into your bean pot. Add the ingredients plus enough water to just cover the beans and stir well. Put the salt pork on top. Cover the pot and bake at 250F for at least 8 hours without disturbing it - no stirring, no lifting the cover to see how it's doing.  At the 8 hour mark, take the cover off and put it back for another half hour.  This gives the characteristic crust on the top which is absolutely the best part!!!!!

Crock Pot:
Drain precooked beans and put into your crock pot. Add the ingredients plus 3 C water. Stir the salt pork into the beans.  Cover and cook 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.  OR, you can soak the beans, don't bother precooking them, and toss everything into the crock pot.  If you do that, you will need to cook them 8 hours on low or 6 hours on high. Check halfway through to make sure there is enough water.

Pressure Cooker at 15 lbs pressure (stove top)
Using UNSOAKED beans, cook beans in about 6 cups water at 15 lbs for 25 minutes. Quick release. Drain beans. Return to pressure cooker.  Add 2 Cups water and all other ingredients. Bring to 15 lbs pressure again, cook 25 minutes, use quick release.  Check to see if it needs more water, or if it needs some liquid boiled off and check for salt as needed.

InstantPot Electric Pressure Cooker (at 11 lbs pressure which is the standard)
Using UNSOAKED beans, place beans and 8 cups water in pot. Cover. Press manual and cook 30 minutes. Turn keep warm off. Use natural (slow) release for 10 minutes, then quick release if the pot won't open. Drain beans and return to InstantPot. Add ingredients, plus 1 - 2 Cups water (I used 2 cups and it was just a little too much - next time, I will try 1 1/2 Cups). Stir in the salt pork. Cover the pot, press Manual and cook for 25 minutes. Use quick release.

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