Monday, January 23, 2012

Baked Beans I

I made baked beans I almost a year to the day after I made baked beans II. I selected II first because it had to bake a shorter time than I. Baked Beans I has to bake for six to eight hours. Baked Beans II has to bake for two and a half hours.
Baked Beans I has a longer ingredient list and makes a larger quantity of the sacred bean than does Baked Beans II. If I was really doing a good job here, I would have frozen some of the earlier recipe so I could have a comparison and know which is the better recipe.
But, you know what? It's all just baked beans. It's up to the cook. If you think that baked beans with celery in them sounds better than without, or if you think baked beans are crying out for parsley, thyme and sherry (which I left out) then make Baked Beans I. If you prefer a simpler bean concoction, make Baked Beans II.
I started out to make these on an icy January afternoon. I had elected to stay in bed rather than get up and slip and slide out to Poolesville where the horse is. I got the beans cooked and added to somewhere around 4:00, but had no time to bake them.
Bob, George and I went out to dinner at our friends Barbara and Brian's on Saturday night, so when we came back, I baked the beans overnight. Worked great. I feel sure that the New Englanders who enjoyed Boston Baked Beans on Sundays did the same thing. The wives popped hot steaming pans of beans into their wood stoves before they went to bed on Saturday night. When they got home from church all they had to do was take the pan out of the oven and there was Sunday dinner.
These beans can be part of your Sunday dinner or your Saturday picnic lunch or even your attempt at a British fried breakfast. I tried them that way and it resulted in a heavy feeling. But if you like that sort of thing, go for it.

Baked Beans I

1 pound dried pea beans or navy beans
1 bay leaf
1 celery rib halved
3 sprigs parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme or one half teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 pound salt pork
2/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium size onion, coarsely chopped
one cup sherry

1. Soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover.
2. Next day, drain beans, then cover with fresh water. Tie the bay leaf, celery, parsley and thyme in a bundle. Add to the kettle. Bring to a boil and simmer slowly until bean skins blow off when blown upon lightly, thirty to sixty minutes.
3. Drain beans, reserving two quarts of the cooking liquid. Slice the salt pork into one-quarter-inch slices. Arrange the beans and half the sliced pork in alternate layers in a two-quart bean pot or casserole. Score the remaining pork and place in the center of the top layer of beans.
4. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
5. Combine the molasses, brown sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, onion and reserved cooking liquid. Pour over the beans. Bake, covered, six to eight hours. One hour before beans are to be done, pour the sherry over them. Replace the cover and bake one hour longer. Makes six to eight servings.

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