Super savory, glossy, juicy with touch of sweetness these Boston Style beans are the best, and are welcome as a side dish to any BBQ party.
This month my husband and I celebrate our wedding anniversary and today I am sharing with you my version of Boston Baked Beans and this dish makes me often recall the beginning months of our marriage. You see, we got married in MA, on Cape Cod but the religious part of the wedding took a place in Boston, MA by Father Victor at the Orthodox church called Holy Epiphany. Thus, the name of this dish reminds me of my newlywed beginnings.
Take a look these old pictures.
What is Boston Baked Beans?
Its a delicious side dish or main dish that has deep roots in food history, its the dish that everyone in New England loves it. Boston Style Baked Beans are different because of molasses, the fermented product that we get from sugar making prosses. Blackstrap molasses!
The thing with molasses, though, is that it significantly slows down the rate at which beans soften during cooking. The slightly acidic pH of molasses, according to Harold McGee, makes the pectin and hemicellulose in the bean's cell walls more stable and less prone to dissolving; second, the sugar in the molasses strengthens the bean's cell walls and slows down the rate at which their starch absorbs water; and, the last, the calcium in molasses steps in to further strengthen the bean's cell walls.
What makes my Boston Baked Beans Tastier & Healthier?
First of all its presoaking beans. Dried beans contain oligosaccharides, which are hard to digest — even when they reach your small intestine, the beans can't be digested fully. Beans are loaded with phytic acid that not only grabs onto important minerals, but it also inhibits enzymes that we need for digesting.
Adding aromatics to the bean-cooking water, bay leaf, provides layer of deep, complex flavor.
Starting the pot of beans on the stovetop, this reduces the time in an oven. Low and Slow is the key.
The secret to a rich, thickened glossy glaze isn't ketchup, it's blackstrap molasses and it's the bean starch itself. Molasses is a very great ingredient to have in your pantry, rich in calcium, iron and magnesium. In old days in the US, pediatricians' prescribed molasses water to babies with constipation.
Can I make Baked Beans, Boston Style as Vegetarian?
Yes, even though traditionally people used salted pork, lately I have been using bacon in my recipe. Bacon gives not only some fat but also a nice hint of smokiness that my family enjoys. For extra boost of smokiness, I add sweet smoke paprika, so if you are vegetarian and want to leave bacon out, you can add more paprika and you should be happy with the final flavor.
The history behind Baked Beans Boston Style
According to a Wikipedia, it's been a staple dish in New England since the early 1620s., during slave trading, Boston became an exporter of rum. The rum was sent to West Africa to buy more enslaved people. Rum is made by the distillation of fermented molasses. So with all that molasses, Bostonians began adding it to their baked bean recipes, giving it a sweeter flavor and thus creating Boston baked beans!
In colonial New England, baked beans were traditionally cooked on Saturdays and left in brick ovens overnight. On Sundays, the beans were still hot, allowing people to indulge in a hot meal and still comply with Sabbath restrictions. This is a rather cute story, but there is further dark history about molasses, which is the Great Molasses Flood. This disaster occurred in Boston after a storage tank collapsed on January 15, 1919, pouring more than two million gallons (eight million liters) of molasses through the city's North End. This caused extensive damage and killed 21 people and 150 injured.
The ways to Cook Baked Beans Boston Style?
There are many ways to cook Boston Style Baked Beans.
The traditional way is in using a bean crock.
But there other ways to achieve the same results:
Crock pot, Dutch oven, Instant pot.
Today I want to show you how to do in a Dutch oven.
What kind of the beans are best for Baked Beans Boston Style?
Boston baked beans are traditionally made with Navy beans, a small white variety with a mellow and creamy flavor. If you don't have Navy beans, Great Northern or cannellini can be used.
What to serve with Baked Beans Boston Style?
These beans are great on their own but they really make a special treat paired with fresh cornbread or biscuits. Any BBQ meat and coleslaw will take this dish to exceptional heights of taste bud delights.
Let's do it....
Prep time: 5 minutes
Soaking time 6-8 hours
Cooking time: 2 hours & 30 minutes
Total time: 8- 10 hours & 35 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Serves: 8-10 people
1 lb. dry navy beans
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 strips of bacon, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons smoke paprika (add more if you like to leave out bacon)
2/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1-2 tablespoons coconut sugar ( add more if you like)
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoon pink salt
1 bay leaf (for boiling beans)
Soak beans in cold water for 6-8 hours or overnight in a large bowl. Drain in a colander. Rinse them.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Pour beans into the Dutch oven, cover with 6 cups of water and add bay leaf.
Bring to a boil gently, and cook 10-15 minutes, when foam accumulates on the surface, scoop it out. Then cover and continue simmering beans on low heat for another 10-15 minutes.
Remove them from the stove. Beans should be slightly tender to the touch but not fully cooked. Up to this step, you can do up to one week ahead of time. Add onion, bacon and the rest of the ingredients. Mix all together. Add a little bit more water or vegetable stock if needed. The liquid should be at least one inch above the beans.
Place covered Dutch oven into the oven, and leave for one hour. After the hour, remove the lid and continuing baking on low heat up to 350F. Continue to cook for another hour, or so. Add additional water if needed.
Check the beans every 15 minutes, adding hot water, if necessary, to keep beans slightly soupy at all times. Remove from oven, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary, before serving.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel and never miss a recipe!