Wednesday, April 27, 2011

John Adams Quick and Easy Boston Baked Beans

Long before John Adams was born in Braintree, Massachusetts, American Indians in the region were eating all kinds of beans. During the harsh New England winters, food was often difficult to find, but beans were relatively easy to find, dry, store, and prepare.

Food historians say that New England Indians mixed beans with maple syrup and bear fat. They then placed the mixture in a clay pot, buried it in a pit and covered it with hot rocks. After the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts, they may have learned how to make baked beans from Indians in the region but probably prepared them with molasses and pork fat instead of maple syrup and bear fat.

If you'd like to whip up some Boston Baked Beans at your next barbecue or other large social gathering, here is a quick and easy recipe to try from

1 pound dried pinto beans (2 1/4 cups)
12 bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 cups water
1 1/3 cups chopped onion
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup dry mustard
2 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper

Place beans in large bowl. Add enough water to cover by 3 inches. Let stand overnight. Drain beans; set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cook bacon in heavy large pot until crisp, about 8 minutes. Add beans and all remaining ingredients to pot. Bring to boil.

Transfer pot to oven. Bake uncovered until beans are tender and liquid thickens, stirring occasionally, about 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring beans to simmer before serving.)

FAST FACT: On November 1, 1800, John arrived in the new capital city and moved into the President’s House. The next evening, while sitting in a damp, unfinished room, John wrote a letter to his wife Abigail, which included a blessing for the new house and its future inhabitants. This is what he wrote: I pray Heaven to Bestow the Best of Blessings on THIS HOUSE and All that shall hereafter Inhabit it. May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under This Roof! More than a century later, in the final year of World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had these words inscribed under the stone mantle of the fireplace in the State Dining Room. And these words are still there today!