My earliest recollection of celebrating Independence Day is of watching what seemed like a massive flow of uniformed people marching down a large residential street that swept toward the village’s main commercial drag. I sat on a crowded curb and watched big people with flags and band instruments parade by, keeping time to Sousa marches and Tin Pan Alley ditties by George M. Cohan. The music and pageantry sent a thrill up my spine. Whenever I see an avenue lined with waving flags I get that feeling and can see little patches of my first parade.
I juxtapose those flashes with the iconic image of three ragged patriots playing the fife and drum and my mind goes back to Boston and baked beans, a rich dish that’s just right for July 4th.
Most Boston baked beans are made from navy beans and can take up to 10 hours to bake. Slow-baking food is a healthy form of cooking because nutrients are retained and flavors are deeply infused. Even though the actual preparation time is about 15 minutes, I can’t always set up a dish 10 hours in advance of serving. So, with apologies to Bostonians I created a shortened version of the dish and invite readers to share their baked beans recipes.
In my version, the prep time remains at 15 minutes, but the total cooking time is reduced to 3 hours and 15 minutes (4 hours if you count the presoak.) If you’re usually on the run, like me, make the dish and refrigerate it the night before you wish to use it, or even a few days in advance, and reheat it before serving. Presoak the beans using either the overnight method or the quick soak (1-hour) method listed on the package.
Patriots’ Baked Beans
· 16 oz Navy Beans
· 1/2 lb Bacon, cut into 1/2” strips
· 1 small Onion, chopped
· 1/3 C Molasses
· 1/3 C Brown Sugar, packed
· 1 Tbs Dijon Mustard
· 1/3 tsp Ground Cloves
· 3.5 C Hot Water
· Presoak beans using the package directions.
· Preheat oven to 325°.
· Drain beans and place them into a large mixing bowl.
· Mix in bacon and onions and transfer mixture to a covered casserole dish or Dutch oven.
· In medium mixing bowl thoroughly blend molasses, sugar, mustard, cloves, and hot water.
· Pour over bean mixture and cover tightly.
· Place in oven and cook for 2 hours.
· Then, increase heat to 350° and cook for 1 more hour.
· Beans should be soft and the liquid should be thickened. Return to oven and bake longer if necessary. Serve when ready.
Enjoy this robust dish and enjoy your July 4th holiday.