I've lived in Boston since the fall of 2001. I guess that makes it just shy of 8 years. Since I've moved, I've been made aware, time and again, that there are a number of New England traditions of which Connecticut is entirely unaware. There's no clam bakes - but perhaps that can be blamed on the shore line being entirely taken up by the Long Island Sound, and not an ocean (by any stretch of the imagination). There's the undying loyalty to the Sox, but maybe that's because of the proximity of NY and the number of people residing in CT that work there. Connecticutioners completely lack any sort of accent. On the plus side, the pizza's actually really good.
But then there's the lack of Baked Beans, brown breads and fanaticism of Italian Sausages. However, since I now associate myself with Boston far more than Connecticut, I figured it was about time I tackled this rampantly regional dish.
Now, when I mentioned that this plan to Matt, he so kindly mentioned that his Grampy was an award winning baked bean maker. Well crap. Talk about expectations. Of course I couldn't make any recipe other than his Grampy's. But then, how could I ever live up to a blue ribbon legacy on my first attempt?? Well, in short, I didn't. First of all, Grampy's recipe, along with most Boston Baked Beans, calls for salt pork. Which I don't eat. I will count this as my saving grace. The two recipes couldn't possibly be the same, and I'm off the hook.
(also, I've never had and am sort of afraid of brown bread. only one, one!!, friend has ever said it's good. and again, this was when I was talking about making this dinner. so, i went with northern style corn bread)
Grampy's Boston Baked Beans
1 lb great northern beans
3 tbs molasses
1 tsp dried mustard
3 tbs brown sugar
3 tbs catsup (or 6 packets, you know, whatever you happen to have)
2 slices turkey bacon (not in the original recipe)
2 thick slices uncooked, fatty corned beef, cubed (also not in the original)
1 small onion, fine chopped
Sort and soak the beans overnight. Drain well and pour into a bean pot (or a casserole dish with a lid, like I did, if you don't have a bean pot).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a separate bowl, combine molasses, mustard, brown sugar, and catsup. Combine well and add to beans as well as the bacon and corned beef. Stir until well mixed. Add water to cover. Place lid on the pot and put it in the oven for 5-6 hours. Check periodically, stir and add water as needed. You don't want it to get dried out. For the last half hour or so, let the sauce thicken without letting the dish dry out.
Upon removing and tasting, we decided to add some salt and a little more brown sugar.
Twas delicious, but I've still some work to do before I live up to Grampy's legacy.
For the corn bread, I followed this recipe. Before posting it to my site, though, I want to tweak it. First thoughts are it needs more salt and sugar.
Was it easy?
Yes, exceptionally so.
Was it good?
As mentioned above, yes, very good. However - it's not there yet.
Would I make it again?
Again yes. Hopefully at some point with supervision/guidance from Grammy or Mary Jo.