Bean pots and their like have been around since the dawn of time. They are the original slow-cookers or crock pots of the open fire. Unfortunately, over the last hundred years, we’ve lost the skill and ability in using them. Our modern ovens lifestyle doesn’t allow for us to put some food in the oven or fire to cook and come back to it several times during the day to see what’s going on with it, but that’s what bean pots need.
Bean pots are a nifty and versatile thing, because you can use them both on an open fire, preferably in a coal bed, and in a modern oven. In a modern oven, however, you must be careful to not use too much heat. Bean pots need approximately 200-300 degrees, depending on the recipe you are using. Low and slow is the way here.
They’re also good because they are pretty much a full protein, if you, like our ancestors, drop a bit of meat into the mix. I use the following recipe, which I cannot claim the creation of, but which I use because it reminds me of my great grandmother’s beans. I’ve also used others from old cookbooks, because they always have the best (and strangest!) recipes!
Boston Baked Beans
- 1 six quart or 2 three quart bean pots
- 2 pounds beans – California pea beans preferred or York State beans
[small white dried pea beans]
- 1 pound salt pork [for people who cannot tolerate preservatives which all salt
pork is treated with, substitute with all natural bacon]
- 8 Tablespoons sugar [1/2 cup]
- 2/3 cup molasses
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 4 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 medium-size onion
This recipe is a direct cut and paste and can be found at http://www.newenglandrecipes.org/html/baked-beans.html
So, on to the how-to of it all is this: Soak your beans overnight in enough water to both cover them and let them expand. The next morning, drain your beans and chop up both the onion and the salt pork. Toss the whole lot into the bean pot. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Put this in the oven at 300 degrees and check on it every hour or two. It may need water to gain the correct consistency. Add hot water if needed, as to not crack your bean pot. The original recipe says to cook for 6 hours, but I find it takes more like 8 to get the beans all the way to where I want ‘em. The longer you cook them, the stronger the taste gets. Taste as you go.
Eat ‘em up, they don’t last long!