For some reason, Saturday night, date night, always centered around baked beans back in our part of New England very many years ago. Baked beans and brown bread? Baked beans and coleslaw? Maybe include some hot dogs or sliced ham? Maybe a little potato salad? Our part of New England was particularly partial to a brand named Friend’s, Friend’s Baked Beans. we all could cook them from scratch, a family needs shortcuts now and then.
Between “scratch” oven-baked soaked beans and heating up the can of plain Friends, we had another option, that of “doctoring” the plain canned beans with every manor of condiment in the ice box.
If we wanted to be “fancy” and still not start from scratch, we put the canned beans into a proper crockery bean pot, then attempted to surpass the proven Friends’ recipe by dumping in eyeball amounts almost anything which was not vegetables, pastas or rice rice. We had our “eyeball” unwritten rules. (practically anything hot, bitter or sweet).
- Any leftover meats
- Apple slices
- Bacon/bacon fat
- Beer, or better
- Brown sugar
- Fruit juices
- Herbs, any and all
- Hot sauce
- Maple syrup
- Mustard, and there are so many kinds
- Onions, any member of their family
- Relishes (any)
- Sliced pineapple
Saveur, online, lists a classic New England Baked Bean recipe. To their dried navy beans, then added onion, cloves, bacon, maple syrup, molasses, dry mustard, ketchup, cider vinegar and a bit of dark rum.
Native Americans in the New World added bear fat and maple syrup to their baked navy beans, placed them in a clay pot then covered the pot with hot rocks then placed it all in a pit in the ground.
It wasn’t until 1993 that the authentic bean for Boston Baked Beans would always remain the small navy bean.
Baked beans are extremely high in fiber and for this reason are famed for the amount of gas they make certain eaters emit. This is actually not true for those who make it a habit to eat a healthy, high fiber diet year-‘round. Some cooks add a small amount of baking soda before cooking their beans believing this lessens the problem.
A good, well-rounded Old Country Brit breakfast always includes warmed over baked beans along with juice, stewed fruit, bacon, eggs, sausages, grilled tomato, kippers, marmalade, black pudding, toast and tea.
FOODSITES WITH NEW ENGLAND BAKED BEAN RECIPES: