Baked beans — that picnic/potluck classic that people seem to either love or hate! Apparently they don’t just come from a can — who knew?
Brer Rabbit’s Recipe!
4 cups navy beans
1/2 lb. salt pork
1 cup Brer Rabbit Molasses
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups boiling water (from simmered beans)
Wash beans; pick over; soak 3 hours in boiling water to cover. Cover, bring to boil in same water (to preserve minerals and vitamins) adding extra water if needed to cover well; skim; cook slowly until tender — about 50 minutes. Drain, reserving cooking water. Turn beans into bean pot or 3-qt. casserole. Scrape pork rind until white, score top by cutting down about 1 inch, and bury in beans with rind exposed. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over beans. Cover; bake in slow oven (325° F.) 3-1/2 hours or until tender, uncovering during last hour. If necessary, add water during baking. 12 servings.
Quite a lot of baked beans is just waiting, apparently. So it’s really quite easy, even though it takes a long time. But with a total cooking time of over seven hours, this is not a spur-of-the-moment meal. It was originally planned for a Saturday, but realizing we needed navy beans instead of pinto beans* wasted an hour, requiring a schedule shift to Sunday. I had to start on this before lunch, to ensure we’d have it by dinner time.
* Pinto beans would probably work equally well, but I was being as true as possible to the recipe this go-round.
I’d actually been thinking of making baked beans for a while — not even because they’re particularly retro, but whenever somebody brings homemade baked beans to a potluck, they taste amazing. The big holdup (in my mind, at least) was where I was supposed to find salt pork, which is one of those ingredients I just don’t picture as “modern.”
When I mentioned this to a friend of mine, she just gave me a look and told me to look in the “prepared meats” section. And there it was.
Sort through the beans and discard the ones that don’t look quite right — for example, if a different bean has gotten mixed in, or there’s a weird dark spot on the bean.
I never think of rinsing beans as being incredibly important, but there’s definitely a bit of dust (or something) that comes off them after a quick rinse. See how cloudy the water is?
Add enough water to cover? Usually I add almost twice as much water as I think I need, because beans swell a lot while soaking.
Plan your container size accordingly!
After a quick switch to a larger pot, more water, and the stovetop, I was yet again relegated to waiting for an hour while the beans simmered. And this is the quickest part of the recipe!
This is all the cooking water I salvaged when draining. No, it didn’t all go down the drain accidentally, it got soaked up by the beans!
Scoring salt park is a lot harder than I expected. There’s still a layer of skin on it (ew), and unlike chicken skin, pig skin is very hard to cut through.
Once it was all prepped, I squished it into the beans.
The sauce was very quick to put together, although the high viscosity of molasses means it takes a bit of effort to make sure it’s evenly mixed.
Dump the sauce on top, throw it in the oven, and walk away for three hours!
When everything is beautifully browned, you’re ready to eat.
Some barbecue chicken on the side, and these were ready to go!
These were not the most amazing baked beans I’ve ever had — the beans were a little bit tough (possibly needing a longer soak, although three hours is pretty long), and blackstrap molasses imparted a pretty bitter undertone to the sweetness. But I was pleased to have figured out how to make this “staple” from scratch, and found it surprisingly easy … if you’ve got the time to cook in short spurts over the entire day!
While I got this from the delightful “Hey, My Mom Used To Make That!” blog, it’s much more likely that my grandmother used to make this…