Friday, August 04, 2006

Weekend Cookbook Challenge #7: Boston Baked Beans

I have been traveling on business the past week and between that and the extreme heat I have to be honest, I haven't had time nor the desire to heat up the kitchen to cook for this Weekend Cookbook Challenge. In fact, it wasn't until this morning while driving in to work that it occurred to me that I had already cooked for the challenge, a little over seven months ago. Ok, I'm truncating time here it was closer to nine months ago but since the theme is lucky number seven....

Late in the winter last year, while trying to find inspiration from the contents of my pantry to cook for an earlier edition of WCC, I had found a bag of Seven Bean Soup mix that MBH's mother had sent to us several years ago. MBH isn't a big bean soup guy. In fact, MBH isn't a big anything bean guy. He's strictly a no bean dip, no hummus, light on the kidney beans in his chili type of guy. So, the soup mix had languished in the back of my pantry forgotten. The spice pack was as hard as a brick but the dried beans were just fine. We also had a ham bone in the freezer from a late fall ham dinner. Inspiration had struck, I would find an old fashioned recipe for Boston Baked Beans. As it was cold and snowy outside, I knew the long cooking time would warm the kitchen up nicely and provide a pleasant smell of brown sugar and molasses as the beans cooked. I pulled down a large glass mixing bowl and poured the beans into it to soak overnight. The combination of pinto, black, cranberry, navy, pink, small red, and blackeye beans was very pretty and colourful.

Early the next morning, I trudged to the store through snow and purchased a small picnic ham to serve for dinner with the Boston Baked Beans as well as the ingredients for Boston Brown Bread, a good hearty winter New England meal was to be enjoyed that snowy evening. Six hours later, the smell was heavenly and the recipe made enough for me to enjoy cold baked beans on toast (a good English treat) for several days after. The combination of the seven beans made for a creamy and varied texture, one that was pleasing and interesting. And now, several months later, remembering this recipe from the cold winter has provided me with some mental relief from this heat wave as well as an entry for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge #7: Lucky Number Seven.

Boston Baked Beans
Recipe adapted from McCalls Cookbook Collection: Casserole Cookbook

2 cups dried beans (recipe calls for navy/pea beans, I used the beans from a Seven Bean Soup Mix)
1 medium onion chopped
1/2 cup light molasses
2 tablespoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4lb salt pork (I used the ham bone in the freezer)

Wash the beans in cold water, place in bowl and cover with water. Let soak overnight. Drain the beans and in a sauce pan combine the beans with 6 cups water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 40 minutes. Pre-heat the oven at 300 degrees. Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups liquid from beans. Place beans into large bean pot or at least 2 quart casserole dish. Mix onion, molasses, mustard, brown sugar, and reserved bean liquid. Stir into beans. Cut salt pork into 1/2 inch cubes and mix into means. Cover and bake in 300 degree oven for five to six hours. Stir every hour, if beans dry out, add 1/2 boiling water. Beans should be fork tender when finished.