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    Recipe for Boston baked beans


    Serves 8

    The secret to great baked beans is dried beans (Great Northern or navy beans, or an heirloom variety such as soldier beans, yellow eye, Marfax, or Jacob’s Cattle; for heirlooms, go to, a Maine grower). Soak them overnight or use this quick-soaking method, which takes 1 hour. Older versions of this dish call for lots of molasses and salt pork. Here, we tuck pieces of bacon into the beans with enough molasses to give them a fine taste but not overwhelm the dish.

    1pound (2 cups) dried white beans
    2medium onions, coarsely chopped
    ¼cup dark brown sugar
    ¼cup molasses
    1tablespoon tomato paste
    dry mustard
    ¼pound piece slab
    bacon, cut into strips
    4cups water, or more
    if necessary
    ½teaspoon salt
    ¼teaspoon pepper

    1. Soak the beans overnight, drain, and rinse them. Or, in a large, heavy pot, combine the beans and enough water to cover them by several inches. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the beans sit for 1 hour.

    2. Set the oven at 300 degrees.


    3. Drain and rinse the beans and return to the pot. Add the onions, brown sugar, molasses, tomato paste, mustard, and bacon. Add the 4 cups water, salt, and pepper. Return the beans to a boil. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven.

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    4. Cook the beans for 4 hours, checking them every hour to see if the pan seems dry. Add more water as needed, ½ cup at a time.

    5. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like, and let the beans sit for 15 minutes before serving.

    Note: If making in advance, the beans will thicken on standing. To reheat, add more water and cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until hot. Sheryl Julian