February 25, 2014
by Noel Lizotte
I’m sharing another family recipe this week. My dad’s family is from New England. They are true New Englanders, having lived in four of the original thirteen states. I remember trips to Vermont to visit my grandparents. Many people go to Vermont to see the pretty fall leaves. My family went because that’s where we are from.
My Aunt Dot still lives in Vermont. She shared a classic New England recipe with her daughter, who in turn shared it with me. Baked beans are as traditional fare in New England as the fall colors. I think that has a bit to do with the native Americans using a native food source and a bit to do with the frugal New England. This dish is quite inexpensive under most circumstances and it is quite hearty and filling under all circumstances.
Baked beans were a staple in the New England logging camps and sugar camps. There’s a need for hot, filling food when folks are working long hours in the cold.
New England Baked Beans
1 lb beans
2 or 3 oz of salt pork or bacon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp dry ginger
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 c molasses
1/3 c real maple syrup (if you don’t have this use brown sugar)
Wash, sort and soak beans overnight in water. Parboil beans with salt pork or bacon. Coarsely chop the onion. Combine the spices and syrup/sugar with molasses. Dump all together into the bean pot. Cover with water. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour then reduce heat to 225 for (depends on the beans) and bake for an additional 4-5 hours for Navy beans or 6-8 hours for larger beans like Soldier. Check on the water from time to time so they don’t dry out on top
Approximate Nutrition Information: Servings Per Recipe: 10, Amount Per Serving: Calories: 392, Fat: 13g, Cholesterol: 13mg, Sodium: 500mg, Total Carbs: 55g, Protein: 10g.
Make it a Meal: Serve these baked beans with your favorite sandwich and a small salad for a hearty supper. If you’re looking for a smaller meal, a serving of beans a slice of bread will hold you over.
Variations: Add diced celery, green peppers or carrots for extra flavor and color. Mix the type up beans you use, add some kidney beans and black beans to the navy beans.
I’m sure you’re familiar with baked bean dishes that incorporate tomatoes or tomato sauce. This dish does not, and honestly, you won’t miss it. The flavor of the beans is sweet with a bit of spice. You are welcome to top your serving of baked beans with ketchup, if you are looking for some fast tomato flavor.
You’ll notice the recipe calls for real maple syrup. For Vermonters there is only one kind of real maple syrup and it comes from their own maple trees. Grade A, of course. If you ask a Vermonter, anything less than Grade A isn’t worth consuming. I’m sure there are some Ohio Maple Syrup producers who feel the same way about their product!
I’ve discovered that real maple syrup, whether it comes from Vermont or Ohio, adds a flavor to the beans that isn’t possible with store bought commercial syrups. Therefore, I highly recommend splurging on the real maple syrup for this recipe!
Reader Feedback: Stuffed pancakes with peanut butter and banana are worth trying. If you don’t have bananas, some readers substituted their favorite jam or chocolate chips with the peanut butter. Another reader replaced the peanut butter with Nutella as suggested and raved about that combination!
Noel Lizotte is cooking her way through winter with easy recipes like this. More recipes are available in her cookbook, for sale at www.ApronFreeCooking.com