There are a lot of great side dishes you can make when you are cooking for outdoor meals, barbecues, pool parties, summer graduations, buffet meals, picnics and general outdoor get-togethers. There are always options for potato salad, coleslaw, fruit salads, green salads and more, but one of my personal favorites is baked beans. Baked beans can pretty much go with any type of meal, and seem to go really well with all kinds of barbecue, whether it is ribs, chicken, burgers and hot dogs or just about anything else. I have tried a variety of baked bean recipes and posted a few of them right here on this blog, but one that I always seem to go back to is this one from America’s Test Kitchen for Boston baked beans. It’s simple and delicious and gives you that deep flavor you want.
Boston Baked Beans
4 ounces salt pork, trimmed of the rind and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 ounces bacon (2 slices), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1/2 cup molasses
1 tablespoon molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons brown mustard
1 pound dried small white beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Ground black pepper
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position; heat the oven to 300 degrees. Add the salt pork and the bacon to an 8-quart Dutch oven; cook the pork and the bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned and most of the fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Add the onion and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup of molasses, the brown mustard, the beans, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, and 9 cups of water; increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the pot and set the pot in the oven. Bake until the beans are tender, about 4 hours, stirring once after about 2 hours of cooking time. Remove the lid from the pot and continue to bake the beans until the liquid has thickened to a syrupy consistency, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer. Remove the beans from oven; stir in the remaining tablespoon of molasses, the apple cider vinegar, and the additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
You really want to use dried beans for this recipe. Canned beans cooking this long will just get very mushy on you and lose all of their texture and consistency (besides, dried beans are pretty cheap, usually about 75 cents for a 1-pound bag). This recipe makes a lot of beans, as most beans recipes seem to do, so it is great if you are cooking them for a crowd at a barbecue. if you want to just make them for a smaller, home crowd or family, you can do what I did this time and cut the recipe in half. you’ll get a good portion of beans for your meal and still have leftovers to use for other days. You get great flavor from the bacon and salt pork with just a hint of the brown mustard and the molasses and vinegar both really help to build the overall flavor of the dish. This one is a family favorite for us and we make it a lot, especially in the summer or to bring over to a party.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. I hope you enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and remember to take the time to thank a veteran today and remember those who have given so much to help the world through their sacrifice and commitment. Enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!