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VERMONT MAPLE BAKED BEANS WITH BOURBON
This recipe was published in Fine Cooking Magazine back in 2001. I have since updated and upgraded it---the most recent change was February, 2006. You really need one of those old fashioned New England bean pots for this dish to be really "right". If you try to rush the baking process, you will have dry burned beans, so take your time and allow the dish to bake the full 7 hours---the result is worth it.
Serves: 6

1 pound dried Great Northern or Navy beans -- washed and sorted
2 teaspoons Coleman's dry mustard
2 teaspons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup Grade B or dark amber maple syrup -- or molasses
1 medium onion -- finely chopped
1/2 pound lean salt pork, side meat, or bacon
1/4 cup bourbon

Place beans into a Dutch oven or large saucepan; add enough water to cover by 2 inches and soak overnight. (If not soaking overnight, put beans into a large kettle, cover with water up to 1 inch, and bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer uncovered 30 minutes. Let stand about 2 hours.)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Drain the beans and transfer to a large mixing bowl---Reserve the soaking liquid. To the beans, add the remaining ingredients except the meat and bourbon, and mix well.

Ladle about 1/3 of the bean mixture into a 2-quart bean pot or Duitch oven. Cut pork into two pieces and score pork the fatty side in a criss-cross pattern, but do not cut through. Nestle one piece of the pork into the beans (if using bacon put 2-3 slices crosswise). Ladle the rest of the bean mixture into the pot and nestle the remaining piece of pork into the beans (or layer more bacon). Pour about 1-1/2 cups of reserved soaking liquid over the beans and cover the bean pot.

Bake 6-1/2 hours without disturbing. Remove from the oven and stir in the bourbon. Add about 1/4-1/3 cup more of the soaking liquid if beans seem somewhat dry. Mix gently to disperse the salt and bourbon. Cover the pot and bake 1 hour longer.

Remove cover and bake 30 minutes. Top should be crusty and the interior somewhat moist. Remove and discard pork; serve hot or at room temperature.

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Copyright 2008 Carol Stevens, Shaboom's Kitchen, All Rights Reserved