Boston Baked Beans

Baked beans of one sort or another have been around since European seamen brought back the ancestors of the Haricot bean from South America in the early sixteenth century. They have since evolved to become a staple of English cuisine, although they are seldom made in the home now, and the commercial varieties available are stewed rather than baked. Boston in the USA became a centre of the production of rum in the seventeenth century. As molasses, a by-product of the rum-making process became cheap and plentiful, it was added to the local variety of baked beans, and with the addition of salt pork, lead to the creation of Boston Baked Beans. This one below has been evolving for many years now and is but one of myriad variations on an excellent theme.

 

Ingredients.

1 ½ cup haricot beans [or Navy beans, or Kidney beans, or Aduki beans].

½ cup chopped dried tomatoes.

1 dried chilli, seeded, chopped [optional].

Salt to taste.

300g bacon in four lumps [use American streaky bacon ends].

1 400g can crushed tomatoes.

2 tblsp Worcestershire sauce.

¼ cup molasses.

1 tblsp English mustard.

 

Method.

Soak the beans, dried tomatoes and chilli overnight in cold salted water in a saucepan. The next day bring the pan to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid. Pour one third of the beans into a casserole dish, place the bacon on the beans and pour the remaining beans around the bacon.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. In a small pot, bring the canned tomatoes to the boil, stir in the Worcestershire sauce, the molasses and the mustard. Stir until all ingredients are dissolved and thoroughly mixed. Pour the mixture over the beans and top up with the reserved soaking water until the beans are covered. Cover and bake at 200° C for 1 hour.

Reduce the heat to 110° C and bake for a further five hours. Check every couple of hours and top up with a little of the reserved and reheated water if the liquid falls below the level of the beans.

 

Serve with: A crisp green salad.

 

Serves: 2 [with some left over for breakfast].

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