Boston Baked Beans are one of those iconic dishes, especially if you live in New England. Many families would eat franks and beans every Saturday night, though canned baked beans were often used instead of homemade. Like many families, mine has a recipe for Boston Baked Beans. As far as I can tell, I’m the 6th generation to use this recipe. My mom learned how to make these from her grandmother, Clara, and has since passed this recipe along to me. Growing up, it was the one thing that my mom was responsible for bringing to every gathering that had food, especially the summer cookouts that started on Memorial Day and ended on Labor Day.
This is a post that I have been debating about for a while now. This recipe was always considered a “family secret” and was not to be shared. People would always ask for it, but I think it was only shared with one person outside of the family, who I believe ended up making her own changes to it. The interesting thing about this recipe is not what’s in it, but what isn’t. As I’ve said in an earlier post, people always try to guess what the secret ingredients are. The secret is that there aren’t any.
Right now is the best time for the sharing of recipes and culinary techniques. After years of “secret recipes”, a new generation of chefs are leading the way by putting it all out there, much of it for free on the internet. There’s been a shift from competition to collaboration. I’m grateful for all that I’ve learned and the connections I’ve made in recent years.
Having lost my mom, dad and grandmother all in the last 4 years has taken a mental toll on me. It’s something that I carry with me most days. To the best of my knowledge, I’m the only person who has this recipe. If it’s something that people really like, why shouldn’t it be shared? It’s nice to think that some part of my family’s culinary legacy lives on. Since I don’t know the originator of the recipe, I’ve attributed it to my great grandmother Clara, who taught me so much about food, even at a young age. I’ll give the recipe as it was passed along to me, followed by by notes. If you make this and like the recipe, let me know. Please share freely.
Clara’s Boston Baked Beans
1 lb Dry Yellow Eye (Steuben) Beans
3/4 Cup + Granulated White Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 Med-Lg White/Yellow Onion, Chopped Fine
Lots of Salt Pork (1/3-1/2 #)
Water for Cooking
1. Day 1- Soak Beans in Water Overnight
2. Day 2- Boil Enough Water to Cover Beans Well. This Should Be a Little More Than 4 Cups
3. Put Beans in a Ceramic Bean Pot
4. Add Onion, Sugar & Salt.
5. Remove Tough Skin from Salt Pork and Cut into Medium Dice. Add to Beans.
6. Cover with Boiling Water. Cover and Bake @275 Degrees for 6-8 Hours. No Stirring Necessary, But Add More Water if Needed While Cooking.
Notes: If you can’t find the Yellow Eye Steuben Beans, you can use Great Northern Beans, but it won’t be the same. They’re very expensive if you buy them special order, but are usually in stock at Hannaford’s Grocery Store.
3/4 cup of sugar is plenty.
I usually use close to 1/2# of Hormel salt pork. I’ve only seen it sold in 12 oz packages. Resist the urge to use the extra 4 oz.
Use 4 1/2 cups of water and you shouldn’t have to add any more.
I’ve never made this in anything but a traditional bean pot, but I know of people that make theirs in a Corningware dish. The 275 degrees is for a standard home oven. Adjust accordingly if using a commercial convection oven.
Every year since 2006 I’ve made a list of my 10 favorite books I read. (Except for last year, when I made a list of 15.) Many of them hold up, but then, some of them I don’t even remember. Thought I’d list them here in case you’re looking for something to read. (I’m still reading and working…
The Dirty South Martini ft Potlikker Ice Cubes
As we continue our quest to utilize cooking by-products in better ways, we once again look to our stock pots. This past Tuesday we were making collard greens. I use a very loose recipe depending on what they’re being served with and what’s on hand. After the greens were washed, I sautéed them with onion and garlic. Some chopped pepperoni, as well as BBQ brisket fat and trimmings were added. Lager, water and cider vinegar went into the pot. Black pepper, brown sugar and kosher salt too. They were simmered for 6 hours, and we had delicious collards. The flavorful liquid left in the pot is commonly referred to as potlikker. It’s full of flavor, not to mention vitamins.
We had more of the potlikker than was needed. I had once joked of a potlikker cocktail. But was that so crazy? It had bitter, sour, sweet, earthy, spicy and vegetal notes. I knew that a little would go a long way, so decided to use them as the ice component in a stirred Gin Martini. My martini was made with 2 oz Tanqueray Malacca and 1 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth. The alcohol was stirred on 5 of the Potlikker ice cubes, adding close to 1/2 oz of chilled liquid. I like the Malacca because it has less of the juniper notes and more citrus than a London Dry Gin.
I thought that this was a success. The potlikker was a nice stand-in for my traditional dose of olive brine. I’m not sure I’m ready to release this to the public yet.
Perhaps you need some tidy aphorism to tuck away in the back of your mind…
What’s interesting about reading “classic” books is just how fucking weird most of them are. Consider Meditations:
Not only was it not written for publication, but Marcus clearly had no expectation that anyone but himself would ever read it….[T]he “you” of the text is not a generic “you,” but the emperor himself….It is not a diary, at least in the conventional sense. The entries contain little or nothing related to Marcus’s day-to-day life: few names, no dates and, with two exceptions, no places. It also lacks the sense of audience—the reader over one’s shoulder—that tends to characterize even the most secretive diarist….[It] is not tentative and exploratory…and it contains little or nothing that is original. It suggests not a mind recording new perceptions or experimenting with new arguments, but one obsessively repeating and reframing ideas long familiar but imperfectly absorbed.
It is, as Gregory Hays, the translator, puts it: “a self-help book in the most literal sense.” It’s Aurelius helping himself, reminding himself of what he needs to do, which leads to the “repetitiveness” of the text—“the continual circling back to the same few problems.” The entries in the book are “‘spiritual exercises’ composed to provide momentary stay against the stress and confusion of everyday life.”
The book feels modern because it’s unfinished—there’s no solid organizing principle or structure to it, so the reader has to do a lot of the work, pulling out the threads, connecting entries, and making sense of the whole. It seems to me a book ripe for remixing and reshuffling—I’d love my friends who have such huge boners for the book to make top-ten lists of their “greatest hits” from the book.
(Actually if you click Mark’s “stoicism” tag, there’s a bunch of good quotes there.)
At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work—as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for—the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”
The things you think about determine the quality of your thoughts.
Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what’s left and live it properly.
It’s quite possible to be a good man without anyone realizing it. Remember that.
People out for posthumous fame forget that the Generations To Come will be the same annoying people they know now.
Get a move on—if you have it in you—and don’t worry about whether anyone will give you credit for it. And don’t go expecting Plato’s Republic; be satisfied with even the smallest progress, and treat the outcome of it as unimportant.
To stop talking about what the good man is like, and just be one.
As you kiss your son good night, says Epictetus, whisper to yourself, “He may be dead in the morning.”
Everything’s destiny is to change, to be transformed, to perish. So that new things can be born.
UPDATE: One thing I need to point out: I actually didn’t have a great time reading this book, because I tried to read it straight through, start to finish. Because it’s so repetitive and collage-like, it can be kind of mind-numbing if you to try to devour it at once. To me, it’s best read in little chunks, like a bathroom book, over several days.
Filed under: my reading year 2013