Friday Recipe Exchange: Baked Beans

jeffreyw baked beans

Baked Beans photo by JeffreyW


From our Food Goddess, TaMara:

I was thinking of backyard cookouts when trying to pick a topic for tonight’s recipe exchange. Running through favorite side dishes, baked beans jumped to the top of the list. It is one of those dishes I equate with summer. I usually only put a pot of baked beans together for large cookouts or picnics and I love them. I like that you can mix up a variety of beans and sauces to get entirely different flavors: sweet or savory, spicy or full of smoky goodness. Difficult to choose a favorite.

With that in mind, let’s start with JeffreyW’s Baked Beans recipe (click here) and his walk-through (in words and picture) of his process (here).

Here’s a quick recipe that spices up a simple can of baked beans and adds a touch of sweet, too. Nita’s Baked Beans, recipe here.

If baked beans aren’t your thing, how about Butter Beans and Greens (recipe here), since in many backyard gardens, the collards, mustard greens and spinach could be flourishing.

What’s on your plate this weekend? Do you have any secret family recipes for baked beans? Go ahead, share in the comments, your secret’s safe with us.

The featured recipe tonight is savory, sweet. smoky and oven baked. Who knew molasses could be so good?

Boston Baked Beans
This serves 8, but you can easily double it for large gatherings. The slow cooking, white beans and molasses are what give these baked beans their signature flavor.

1 pound (2 cups) dried white beans (Great Northern or navy beans)
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup ketchup (or 2 tbsp tomato paste)
1 tbsp dry mustard
1/4 pound thick sliced bacon, cut into pieces
4 cups water, or more if necessary
1/4 tsp salt (more may be needed, but start here)
1/4 tsp pepper
large dutch oven, bean pot or heavy duty oven proof pot

Soak the beans overnight, drain, and rinse them. (Here at high altitude, soaking doesn’t do much, so I pressure cook them for 20 minutes instead, then let them soak for an hour)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Drain and rinse the beans.

Put the beans in a large, ovenproof pot.. Add the onions, brown sugar, molasses, tomato paste, mustard, and bacon. Add water, salt, and pepper. Return the beans to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.

Cook the beans for 4 hours, checking them every hour to see if the pan seems dry. Add more water as needed, ½ cup at a time.

Add more salt and pepper, if you like, and let the beans sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Note: To reheat leftovers, add more water and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until hot.

That’s it for this week. If you missed it, this week’s menu was Grilled Rosemary Steak with Grilled Sweet Peppers and Potatoes. Have a great weekend! – TaMara

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23 replies
  1. 1
  2. 2
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    My family always uses the traditional Durgin Park recipe. It requires an actual bean pot and salt pork not bacon. The last time I was I was at Durgin Park, it seemed that they had sweetened the recipe to match modern tastes.

    ETA: Proper baked beans are something I associate with winter not summer.

  3. 3
    Comrade Scrutinizer says:

    Eww. That is not a happy photo.

  4. 4
    TaMara (BHF) says:

    @Comrade Scrutinizer: You have broken the first rule of recipe threads. Go away now.

  5. 5
    mikefromArlington says:

    target=”_blank” works wonders… just sayin

  6. 6
    SatanicPanic says:

    I never comment on these threads since I am not much of a cook, but damn those look so good I am gonna try this one

  7. 7
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m not really a baked bean fan, but I love me a good corn salad.

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    I also like the Durgin Park Indian Pudding recipe. Godawful ancestral hangover, I suspect. Again, I see it as winter food.

  9. 9
    WaterGirl says:

    @Mnemosyne: Huh. I have never heard of such a thing.

    6 ears corn
    cherry tomatoes
    thinly sliced red onion

    But it’s intriguing.

  10. 10
    gbear says:

    @Comrade Scrutinizer: Really. It looks like a pile of boiled june bugs.

  11. 11
    WaterGirl says:

    I am not a bean eater, but I have always thought that black beans are very good looking.

  12. 12
    efgoldman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    My family always uses the traditional Durgin Park recipe.

    Wait! Your family originally from Boston?
    Couple of Durgin Park stories:
    1) @38 years ago, one of the future mrs efgoldman’s and my first dates, took her to Durgin Park for dinner. She ordered whatever cut of prime rib was served on a platter on which it hung over the edges. Future mrs efgoldman ate every bite. Waitress (one of the ladies who were apparently there when my parents ate there) comes over for dessert and coffee order, looks at her plate, and says “you didn’t eat that all by yawself, a little girl like you.”
    mrs efg, embarrassed: “yes, I did.”
    Waitress, looking at me: “He helped.”
    Me: “I don’t even like prime rib.”
    Waitress, standing up straight and looking across the room, shouting: “Hey, Mahtha! This little girl ate the whole prime rib, all by herself.”

    2) Early 90s, we’re there with our 11 or 12 y.o daughter. Waitress was oh, so, nice. When she comes over for the check, I say something like “things were a little quieter tonight than we expected.” She leans over very close to me and said “fuck you, sir,” then picks up the check, and as she turns to leave says “exciting enough fah ya’?”

    Absolutely true. Both times.

  13. 13
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @efgoldman: People who came into Salem actually: 1629-40. Moved to Concord, MA shortly after the witch trials. Then to New York in the early 1800s and thus to WI in the 1840s.

    I believe your stories about Durgin Park; they fit completely with my memories. I always order the lamb chops.

  14. 14
    efgoldman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name):

    I believe your stories about Durgin Park;

    Actually, now that the Faneuil Hall area has become the tourist mecca mall that it is, and all of the blue plywood for the big dig construction is gone, and the whole area is restored, they’ve toned the attitude down a bit.
    For those who aren’t familiar with the area, the restaurant is in a restored early19th century market building, and for decades before the 80s, it was the only thing in the area open after 400pm most days. The old wholesale markets were cheek by jowl with the financial district, and both closed early.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @efgoldman:The staff was much more polite in 2009 than it was in various previous visits.

  16. 16
    efgoldman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): OT, but this must piss on Walker’s and the TeaHadi’s cornflakes no end:

    A recent Marquette University Law School poll found 55 percent of registered voters statewide now favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while 37 percent oppose it and 6 percent say they do not know.
    According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen acknowledged last month that he would not be surprised to lose the case. He had asked the judge to immediately stay her own decision if she ruled to invalidate the ban. The report notes that normally, lawyers wait until a judge rules before asking for a stay. The state was given until June 16 to submit a proposed injunction of the ruling.

  17. 17
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Apple juice is the secret to awesome baked beans.

    You’re welcome.

  18. 18
    Origuy says:

    I make baked beans for potlucks that are similar to the one above; I started with the one from Joy of Cooking. I add chopped celery and bell pepper and a tablespoon of mild curry powder. I leave off the meat because so many of the people I have potlucks with are vegetarians. Usually I just use the canned vegetarian baked beans because I’m lazy.

  19. 19
    sm*t cl*de says:

    Really. It looks like a pile of boiled june bugs.

    Bloody oath, when that image came up on the screen, it gave me a flashback to the pathology lab.

  20. 20
    debbie says:


    I used to love going to Durgin Park before they gentrified themselves, but I used to get the New England Boiled Dinner because there would still be room left for the Indian Pudding.

    We also used to go to Mondo’s for farmer’s breakfasts. They, too, lost a lot when they had to relocate for the Haymarket upgrade.

  21. 21
    dp says:

    This is one of the few recipes I use that I developed myself. It’s sweet, savory and spicy, and it makes a lot. If you don’t care for the heat, you can cut back on the jalapeno pith and seeds, as well as the cayenne. I’m doing it tomorrow with brisket.

    * 1 pound dried Great Northern or navy beans (navies are better)
    * 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
    * 1 large onion, chopped
    * 2 jalapenos, including pith but discarding seeds of one, chopped
    * 4 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 teaspoon granulated garlic)
    * 1/4 cup tomato paste
    * 1/4 cup sugar
    * 1/3 cup molasses
    * 1 teaspoon dry mustard
    * 1 bay leaf
    * 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
    * 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
    * 4 cups chicken stock (can substitute water)
    * 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    * 1 teaspoon black pepper
    * 2 teaspoons kosher salt

    Soak beans overnight. Drain and rinse.

    Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Saute’ bacon, onion and jalapenos together in a Dutch oven over medium heat until vegetables are soft, about five minutes, then add garlic and saute’ until fragrant. Remove from heat. Stir in tomato paste, sugar, molasses, dry mustard, bay leaf, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke and mix well. Add beans and four cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil, add cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper, cover and place in oven.

    Cook for approximately 6 hours. Check and stir occasionally, adding water as necessary.

  22. 22
    Yutsano says:

    @Mnemosyne: This one’s for you then!

    3 ears corn, cooked until just tender

    1 16 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

    1 large tomato, seeded & diced

    1 bunch green onions, chopped

    ¼ cup cilantro, chopped fine

    2 cloves garlic, grated fine

    ½ tsp ground oregano, preferably Mexican

    Juice of 1 lime

    Salt & Pepper to taste

    2 avocadoes, diced

    Mix together all ingredients except avocadoes, allow to sit in refrigerator four hours or overnight. Right before serving, fold in avocadoes and adjust seasoning as necessary. Corn can be sautéed after kernels are removed, roasted on cobs, or boiled.

  23. 23

    @gbear: At the first glance it looked like Gagh.

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