Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bean Day

The French Chicken in a Pot was very nice. I will do that again. No real fuss and not a lot of mess to clean up just the dutch oven. You don't get the crispy skin but I usually don't eat the skin anyway. The meat was juicy and fall off the bone tender. The jus left in the bottom of the dutch oven was brilliant with the concentrated chicken flavor and the slow cooked aromatics.

Today is traditional Boston Baked Bean day. I inherited my great grandmother's bean pot and it's a beauty. The beans, onion, molasses, mustard and salt pork are already in the oven and in about 8 hours we will have one of the truly great dishes. Again, like the chicken, the long slow cooking is the secret. My mouth is watering already.

Boston Baked Beans

The beans can be made ahead. After cooking, cool them to room temperature and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Serves 4 to 6

4 ounces salt pork , trimmed of rind and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 ounces bacon (2 slices), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 medium onion , chopped fine
1/2 cup mild molasses
1 tablespoon mild molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons brown mustard
1 pound dried small white beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over

Table salt
1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Ground black pepper

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 300 degrees. Add salt pork and bacon to 8-quart Dutch oven; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and most fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Add onion and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add 1/2 cup molasses, mustard, beans, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 9 cups water; increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cover pot and set in oven. Bake until beans are tender, about 4 hours, stirring once after 2 hours. Remove lid and continue to bake until liquid has thickened to syrupy consistency, 1 to 1 1/2 hours longer. Remove beans from oven; stir in remaining tablespoon of molasses, vinegar, and additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

This recipe is again from Cook's Illustrated. Simple but absolutely the best and most traditional.

NOTE: I actually follow this recipe if I am in a hurry but on days like today when I have all the time in the world I make the following changes. I used my antique bean crock. I presoak my beans overnight and I lower the cooking temperature to 250. I think the slower cooking makes them better. Instead of the 9 cups of water you will need 3 cup of boiling water added to the soaked, rinsed and drained beans. Sometimes halfway through cooking you may need to add a little more. This slower cooking seems to keep the beans intact better and they don't get all mushy from boiling like they do in a hotter oven.

No comments: