As the new year progresses, I’m making a resolution to eat more protein-rich legumes like red beans and lentils. For my column with The Advocate next week, I’m sharing a classic recipe for Boston Baked Beans—or, “Baked Beans with Molasses”—using my fancy new terra cotta bean pot I picked up over the holidays in Maine with my family (I found the same one online, here).
Pictured: my new Terra Cotta Bean Pot (4-quarts) picked up during my last trip to Maine.
If you’re trying to stave off the meat and eat more lean, unprocessed proteins, checkout this wonderfully easy recipe for Baked Beans with Molasses. While a bean pot adds a lovely traditional flare, you can adapt the same instructions for a Dutch oven or slow cooker.
Happy New Year,
Baked Beans with Molasses—often called, “Boston Baked Beans”—have a rich, creamy texture and a subtly sweet flavor develops from a slow cooking process with brown sugar and molasses.
Most recipes for Boston Baked Beans suggest using a pound of white beans such as great Northern or navy. When cooked fully, the white skin adopts a rich mahogany color.
While I can’t say I agree that one white bean is better than the other, I can attest red bean varieties offer a wonderfully flavorful way to adapt this classic dish. For this recipe for Baked Beans with Molasses, I suggest readers use kidney beans rather than the classic white bean alternative.
Unlike the properties of white beans that merely take on the color of their seasonings, the red bean more readily absorbs the seasonings in which they are cooked.
Whether you go with white or red beans for this recipe, a little advice on your choice of beans: if cooking with red beans, they will require a longer cooking time. But, in my experience, they’re well worth the wait. If cooking with white beans, they will cook faster. Great Northern beans and navy beans have a thinner skin that responds quickly to heat. White beans are easy to overcook, becoming pasty and mushy without proper monitoring.
Whichever option you choose, know that the molasses will help the beans cook for long periods of time due to its high values of sugar and calcium. Use a bean pot, Dutch oven, or slow cooker to do the job.
Baked Beans with Molasses
Time: 8 hours
Servings: 8 to 10 (1-cup) servings
* 10 ounces bacon, sliced into 1-inch pieces
* 1 (16-oz.) bag red or great Northern beans, rinsed
* 1 cup yellow onion, sliced
* 2/3 cup molasses or maple syrup
* ¼ cup brown sugar, packed
* 1 ½ tsps. dry mustard
* ½ tsp. salt
* ½ tsp. pepper
Special Equipment Needed:
1.) Soak beans overnight for at least 6 to 8 hours, covered.
2.) Drain and rinse beans, transferring to a large pot with 8 cups water. Bring beans to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and cook covered for 1 1/2 hours (if using red beans) or 1 hour (if using white beans). Stir occasionally. Remove beans from heat and reserve 2 cups bean liquid.
3.) Preheat oven to 300F. Transfer beans and 1 cup bean liquid to a 3-quart bean pot, mixing in bacon, onion, molasses, brown sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir well, cover and bake beans for 4 to 6 hours or until desired level of consistency. If beans show signs of drying out, restore moisture by adding the remaining cup of bean liquid.
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Written by: Helana Brigman