Baked beans is actually a Native American dish. Several of the northeastern tribes would bake their beans mixed with maple syrup and deer or bear fat. Often, they would dig bean holes and line them with hot rocks to bake (not unlike a clambake). European colonists would substitute molasses for maple, bacon for deer fat, but the savory-sweet idea is the same. The Pilgrims picked up on this recipe so they could prepare this the night before for their sabbath. Starting the night before, they would leave the beans in a hot oven or pot overnight, and thus enjoy a hot meal when they could not normally even make a fire.
With the storeable nature of beans, and the ease of the recipe, it is pretty easy to imagine pirates enjoying this dish too.
- 1/2 pound dried beans (navy, red, or pinto recommended, though just about anything will work). Soaked.
- 1/2 pound lean backon or ham. chopped.
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/2 cup soup stock (like Bone Broth)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 300F.
- In a large saucepan, cover the beans with water and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and cover for 30 minutes or until the beans are soft.
- Drain beans. Stir in bacon, sugar, molasses and mustard.
- Pour into casserole dish (Or bean pot, if you have one), and bake, covered, for several hours (6-8)
- Check consistency several times while baking. If it starts to dry, add a bit of soup stock.
- When ready, adjust flavor with a bit of salt and pepper.
- A more Caribbean flavor can be had by using black beans, a bit of ginger and lime instead of mustard, and some jerk sauce.
- Some people like a bit of kick to their beans so add a bit of jerk sauce or chipotle sauce to the mix.
- Swapping maple syrup for molasses is also an easy fix. Substitute half the molasses for 1/4 cup of maple syrup. You can forgo the molasses completely for maple, but molasses is much denser and sweeter, so I recommend using about 3/4 cup of maple if you do.