A year-round American favorite, but especially beloved in the North during the cold winter months, is the Classic Boston Baked Beans dish. These rich, spicy beans make a great side dish for a warm weather smoky barbecue, and they’re also excellent “comfort food” in colder weather.
Most commonly used are Navy Beans, but the creamy heirloom beans are often used in New England, as well as others, like yellow-eyed beans and maroon-eyed soldier beans. You may need to cook those alternative beans longer.
Classic Boston Baked Beans Recipe-
- 1 lb. (2-1/2 cups) dried navy beans, picked through for stones
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 8 oz. Pancetta (salt pork) or thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1″ x 1/4″ pieces
- 1/2 cup robust un-sulfured molasses (a must have ingredient, not only for the flavor, but it holds the beans together during the long baking process)
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup 100% pure Maple syrup (no other syrup will do – you have to use pure Maple syrup for the authentic and yummy results!)
- 2 tbs. dried, ground mustard powder
- 1/2 oz. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. freshly ground black peppercorns
- Put the beans in a large bowl, add enough water to cover by about 2 inches, and refrigerate for 8 to 16 hours. (Or bring the beans and water to a boil in a large pot, remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.) Drain and rinse the beans.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 250° Fahrenheit.
- Spread the onion in an even layer on the bottom of a 5-quart Dutch oven or similar heavy-duty pot. Scatter the salt pork on top and then the beans. In a large measuring cup, combine the molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, mustard, salt, and pepper with 5 cups water. Gently pour over the beans.
- Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then transfer to the oven and bake uncovered until the beans are fully tender, 4 to 6 hours—it’s OK if they still look watery at this point.
- Note: If you are using a gas oven, some ovens cycle on and off and have difficulty maintaining a low temperature. If the beans are not tender after 6 hours, your oven could be a factor. Also resist the urge to check on them often. Every time you open the door, the oven loses heat.
- Once they are sufficiently tender, take out of oven and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours to thicken the liquid before serving. Resist skipping this step. After smelling this aromatic dish cooking for hours and hours, you will want to dig right in. Don’t. For optimum success, let it set for a minimum of 30 minutes, and an hour or two is even better.
- Serve your Classic Boston Baked Beans warm, or cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.