Having Baked Beans on a Saturday night in Maine is so common that you would be hard pressed to not find some sort of community bean supper in any town here. Baked Beans have been a popular dish since the early 1800’s, probably due the easy to store and cheap ingredients! New England Baked Beans are made with molasses and salt pork, which is a super fatty section of the pig that is fairly inexpensive, but chock full of flavor. Some Mainers and Canadians use Maple Syrup in place of the molasses, but I have always used the molasses.
In order to have an authentic New England Baked Bean Supper, you do have to have some sides. My family loves to have red hot dogs with our beans. Red Hot Dogs also known as “Red Snappers” are beloved in Maine. They are made with an all natural lamb casing which causes a distinct “snap” when you bite into them. They are also known for the fact that they only contain beef or pork and no fillers of any kind!
You also have to have some sort of cole slaw and either biscuits or Boston Brown Bread with the beans. New England or Boston brown bread is a type of dark, slightly sweet steamed bread usually cooked in a cylindrical can such as a coffee can. I actually have never attempted to make my own brown bread as of yet, but hopefully will be sharing a recipe with you soon! Here in Maine, you can buy a can of brown bread right in the store, so that’s what I usually do.
In order to cook the beans, it’s best to have a bean pot, although you can use a large casserole or baking dish. Or if you want to be truly authentic, you can dig a hole in your back yard and get a nice hot fire going. Once you have a nice bed of hot coals, stick all your ingredients in a cast iron pot, cover it and carefully lower it onto the hot coals. Cover up the pot with dirt until you can no longer see smoke, wait 8 – 10 hours and then dig them out and enjoy!
Without further adieu, here is my recipe for New England Baked Beans….Enjoy!
- 3 cups beans (yellow-eyed or pea beans)
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 pound salt pork, cubed
- 1 small onion, chopped
- Cover beans in water and soak over night.
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Drain and rinse the beans, then place them in a bean pot.
- Add the onion, and salt pork.
- In a separate bowl mix the remaining ingredients and then pour on top of the beans.
- Add enough hot water to cover the beans.
- Place in oven and bake for 7-8 hours.
- Add more water from time to time as necessary.