Baked beans are a classic summer dish to take to picnics, barbeques, and potluck dinners. So I was excited when I found a hundred-year-old recipe for Baked Beans.
It takes a long time to make Baked Beans the traditional way. They need to be soaked overnight and then cooked for many hours. I thought about possible shortcuts (using canned beans or cooking the beans in a pressure cooker), but I decided that it would be more authentic to follow the directions in the old recipe.
The old-fashioned Baked Beans were hearty and tasty – however, they had much less sauce than most modern versions. When I served them, I asked my husband what he thought. He said, “They remind me of Baked Beans relatives used to bring to reunions years ago.”
I still had a few doubts, so when I begin to write this post I said to him, “I’m still not sure about this recipe. The beans seemed a little dry and there wasn’t much sauce.”
He replied, “They were good.”
So the final verdict is that they aren’t quite like modern Baked Beans, but they’re good.
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
2 cups dried pea or navy beans (I used navy beans.)
4 cups water + additional water
1 small onion, diced (approximately 1/3 cup)
2-3 slices bacon, diced + bacon for top of dish
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canned diced tomatoes (or use diced fresh tomatoes)
2 tablespoons molasses or brown sugar (I used molasses.)
1/8 tablespoon baking soda
Soak dried beans in 4 cups water overnight, then drain. Put the soaked beans in a large saucepan, add onions, diced bacon, and salt, then cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and gently simmer until the beans are almost tender (about 1 hour). Remove from heat and add tomatoes, molasses/brown sugar, and baking soda; Place in 2-quart heavy casserole dish or bean crock; arrange bacon slices on the top and sprinkle with pepper; cover. Put in oven (preheated to 325° F.), and bake for 4-5 hours. If necessary, add additional hot water to keep moist while cooking. (I didn’t add any water.)