Baked beans are a New England tradition. They make us think of the days when Vermonters took all day to cook this meal, refueling the fire in their stove to maintain the warmth. This is a recipe adapted from Yankee Magazine with a delicious maple flavor. Feel free to make this dish vegetarian, though we must say the flavors won’t be quite as rich and complex.
- 1 pound soldier beans
- 1 onion peeled and stuck with 6 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 3/4 pound chunk of salt pork or slab bacon on the rind
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp coriander
Soak the beans overnight.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Drain the beans and add half to a oven-safe Dutch oven pot. Add the onion and bay leaf and then the rest of the beans. Add the maple syrup and enough water to be an inch above the beans. Cover the pot and place in the over. Prepare the salt pork by cutting crosshatch at half-inch intervals, making sure to not cut through the rind. Cover it with water and set aside.
After about an hour, begin checking the beans adding hot water as necessary to keep the top layer of beans nicely submerged.
After 2-3 hours, stir in salt and the other spices to taste. Drain the salt pork and push it into the top layer of beans, skin side up, with the skin just at the top of the liquid. Put the lid back on the pot and return to the oven.
Continue to monitor and add water as needed. As the beans begin to really soften, begin cutting back on adding liquid so the sauce thickens. Make sure to not let the top layer of beans dry out though. Remove the lid of the pot for the last hour of cooking so the salt pork skin gets crispy.
photo credit: CCF staff