The first time I made these beans, it was a remarkable failure. The flavors were fine, but the beans never got soft. Some people say that you shouldn't put salt in the water until after they're soft, others say the only thing that matters is getting fresh beans. Either way, I think looking for fresh beans (as opposed to ones that have been sitting on a shelf for a year) and adding salt close to the end is a fine strategy. The salt from the bacon is probably enough as it is, and the beans don't need all that much more salt.
Many Boston Baked Bean recipes call for salt pork, but I find some nice, cruelty-free country-cut bacon is easier to lay my hands on, and just as tasty. I use a slow cooker for this recipe, but if you have a ceramic bean pot you can cook it in there in the oven. These beans are great as dinner, or my suggestion is eating them on top of eggs and toast (or naan, as pictured) for a great English Breakfast! The beans keep for quite a while, so you can experiment with different ways to eat them. You can also cook brown bread or cornbread as an accompaniment, for a more traditional approach.
Serves: 6 - 8 people
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 8-12 hours
Step 1: Ingredients
1/2 lb cruelty-free, country-cut bacon or salt pork
1 medium onion, finely diced
1/3 cup molasses (you can substitute honey, but then they'll be honey baked beans not Boston baked beans, but this recipe works well either way)
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbs worcestershire sauce
1 tbs dry ground mustard seed
Salt to taste
- crock pot or bean pot
Step 2: Soak the Beans
Step 3: Browning the Bacon and Onions
1. Start off by browning the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat. No oil necessary, as the fat will quickly render. You don't want the bacon to get to the crispy stage, just lightly browned (see picture).
2. Remove half the browned bacon and place it at the bottom of the crock pot.
3. Push the remaining bacon to the side of the pan and add the diced onions. Cook the onions until also lightly browned.
Step 4: Mix Up the Broth
5. Mix all the ingredients other than the beans, bacon, and onion into the warm water and stir until the lumps of molasses, brown sugar and ketchup are dissolved.
Step 5: Put Everything Else in the Crock Pot
7. Add the onions and rest of the bacon on top of the beans.
8. Pour in the liquid. The level of the liquid should be about at the same height as the level of the beans.
9. Set the crock pot on high until it starts to boil and then set it on low or warm overnight.
The next day (or that night), your beans should be done! If it's too liquidy, turn the pot up to high for the hour before you want to eat and let some of the liquid boil off, or mash up some of the beans in the liquid, which should thicken it up. Also add a tablespoonish of salt an hour before you want to eat it.
These beans are great over eggs and toast for an english breakfast or brunch or just on their own. They are sweet and full of bacon and truly delicious!