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August 28, 2009

Traditional Maine Baked Beans

A foggy day on the coast of Maine is made for baking beans. None are as flavorful, as perfectly seasoned, as beautifully brown as Auntie’s.

You should probably be home the whole time they’re baking, so you’ll be on hand to add water every so often. If you slip out for an hour hour and come back to beans with their tongues hanging out for thirst, don’t blame me. Freeze them and trot them out later for barbecues, patio buffets, and clambakes when it’s too hot to bake.

Auntie’s No-Soak, Cold-Water, White-Sugar Baked Beans
Karyl Bannister, Cook & Tell: No Fuss Recipes & Gourmet Surprises1 pound small white beans (not pea beans)
¼ pound salt pork
½ cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dab of prepared mustard
¼-1/3 cup molasses


Preheat the oven to 350°. Chuck everything but the molasses into a 2- or 3-quart bean pot. Add cold water to cover the beans. Cover and bake for an hour, or until the beans are plumpish and the skins somewhat shriveled.

Add the molasses, reduce the oven temperature to 300°, cover, and bake until the beans are thoroughly tender, about 6 hours. You’ll need to add water just about every hour. The beans must not go dry on top. That’s an order. Serve hot.

Serves 8.

Karyl Bannister writes and illustrates the newsletter Cook & Tell, published ten times a year.


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